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Hoffenheim 1, Liverpool 2: First Thoughts

Liverpool will take a one goal advantage back to Anfield, thanks in part to an Alexander-Arnold stunner.

Sydney FC v Liverpool FC Photo by Matt King/Getty Images

Hoffenheim 1: Uth 87’
Liverpool 2: Alexander-Arnold 35’, Nordtveit (OG) 74’

  • Pre-match Thought: Same line-up as on Saturday, for better or for worse. Grumble, grumble something about new signings. If I’m honest, I’m not entirely sure who should start ahead of these eleven, which shows just how precarious our current squad situation is. Hopefully our front three can attack with as much venom as they did last weekend. And maybe our midfield could show up today?
  • We’re not there yet...but I’ve missed that Champions League anthem.
  • Simon Mignolet nearly gets caught out. First he barely manages to get to a ball outside the box before the Hoffenheim attacker, and then is nearly caught well out of position by the quick throw immediately thereafter. Moments later, Hoffenheim threaten twice in the space of a minute with two very dangerous crosses that the defenders do well to clear.
  • And...holy shit has it only been six minutes? The home side threatens again with a free kick curled in dangerously between Mignolet and the defenders. Lovern manages to get just enough on it to play it back to the Belgian. Nervy moments early.
  • Penalty: Hoffenheim’s Serge Gnabry was incorrectly called onside, and then preceded to run at Lovren. The Croatian impedes a Hoffenheim player in the box, and the ref correctly points to the spot.
  • SAVED! Justice is served! It was a rather weakly hit penalty by Andrej Kramarić, and Mignolet didn’t have to do much besides guessing correctly. Which he did.
  • HUGE miss by Mohamed Salah. Firmino plays the pacy winger through and he was off to the races, only to push the 1-v-1 shot inches wide of the near post.
  • Sadio Mane was just about to break through on goal when he was violently pulled down from behind. The resulting yellow was the correct call, but doesn’t feel harsh enough in that situation. Anyway, free kick in a dangerous spot.
  • GOAL! Phil who? Trent Alexander-Arnold steps up to the resulting free kick and curls an absolutely pearl of a shot over the wall and into the bottom corner of the net. The goalkeeper was rooted to his spot, stunned as the rest of us that a 19-year-old can do that sort of thing. Liverpool have the lead and a vital away goal.
  • Oh, hi there shambolic defending! Moreno loses out on an aerial duel—badly—and Mignolet is forced to make a close-range save. The save goes as far as another Hoffenheim player at the edge of the box who puts the shot off the outside of the bar, and against all odds, the danger is cleared.
  • Lovren has a chance to make it 2-0 from a corner right at the death of the first half, but his header goes just inches wide of the far post.
  • Halftime Thought: That was a half and a half. Liverpool lead and very much against the run of play. This is a game of inches so far, with both sides missing big chances. Our backline continues living dangerously, and it’s hard seeing us get through two halves like the last one without conceding. The midfield, which was more or less missing in action last time out, is moderately better, particularly Emre Can. Wijnaldum, however, continues to be MIA.
  • Mane nearly creates a little magic to start the second half, getting around his marker on the wing and picking out Firmino. The Brazilian can only manage to put the shot at the keeper with his first touch, and the ball ping-pongs out for a corner.
  • The home side manage to put the ball into the back of the net, but the linesman’s flag was raised, and Liverpool maintain their narrow advantage.
  • Moreno is definitely showing more of his defensive liabilities today than he has in preseason or against Watford. He lost his marker on a long run into the box, and was lucky when the Hoffenheim player mishandled the ball, touching it out of bounds. Still more work to do before the full Morenaissance comes.
  • On the hour mark vice captain James Milner comes on for Captain Jordan Henderson. Hendo doesn’t look in pain, so hopefully this has nothing to do with his on-going injury problems.
  • Liverpool survive three (3!) corners in a row without conceding! Progress! Or luck! Probably luck, but I’ll take it.
  • Lovren goes close again on another corner.
  • GOAL! James THRILLner. Or possibly an own goal. I was just about to write that the Reds looked more likely to score than concede for the first time tonight since the inclusion of Milner. Liverpool took a quick free kick after a foul on Mane, and caught the home side napping. The vice captain was played into acres of space on the left-hand side and curled a ball into the far corner (with an assist off the chest of an opposing player). Sure, it was definitely supposed to be a cross to Salah at the back stick, but who’s counting? I am. 2-0 to the Scousers.
  • Mignolet! The Liverpool keeper comes up big with a save on a tricky shot, hit through a crowded penalty area.
  • Dominic Solanke comes on for Bobby Firmino. The Brazilian didn’t have a great evening in terms of goals and assists, but he pressed like a madman all night.
  • Goal. Mark Uth is kept onside by Lovren, and scores a crackin’ goal from outside the box.
  • Liverpool make their final sub of the night, with Marko Grujic replacing Mane.
  • Liverpool aren’t making the end of this game easy on us. Hoffenheim get a free header off a set play, and mercifully put it over the bar.
  • Final Whistle Thought: If you offered me 2-1 before the match, I would have taken it in a heartbeat, another the late conceded goal tarnishes the overall performance.

We'll be back shortly to take an in-depth look at everything that happened in today's game with the full recap. Until then, let us know your take on the ups and downs of the match in the comments, and if you haven't already, join the community on the Liverpool Offside, where we'll have full coverage and lively in-game discussion for every match this season.

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