Liverpool 3 - 2 Paris Saint-Germain
Liverpool: Sturridge 30’, Milner (PEN) 36’, Firmino 90+2’
Paris Saint-Germain: Meunier 40’, Mbappé 83’
Phew! There was absolutely no need for that match to end the way it did, with the Reds launching an injury time sprint and brute forcing a win through a Bobby Firmino belter, but in the end, the most important thing was collecting all three points, and Liverpool duly did.
Naby Keïta was dropped to the bench in favour of captain Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge got his first start of the season, replacing the one-eyed Roberto Firmino, but otherwise, Liverpool entered their Champions League campaign with the same team Jürgen Klopp has favoured in the league.
The Reds are perfect with 15 points from five matches in the league, and they looked good for it in the opening minutes against their French visitors. On five minutes, Alphonse Areola was forced into his first save of the night, tipping a driven Virgil van Dijk effort over the bar following a quickly taken corner and Trent Alexander-Arnold cross, then made it two for two as he tipped James Milner’s 20-yard strike round his post.
Milner hammered Neymar to win the ball and launch a counter minutes later, and on the ensuing corner, Mohamed Salah nearly curled the ball directly into the back of the net. The hosts were a consistent threat on set-pieces, and after 15 minutes, Joe Gomez contorted himself to get to a corner, but his header looped over the crossbar.
The visitors were never going to be completely harmless, however, and on 17 minutes, Neymar skipped inside Alexander-Arnold and unleashed a shot on goal. Alisson’s save saw the ball rebound back into the area, but Edison Cavani couldn’t get enough on it to generate a proper effort, and the Brazilian keeper collected easily.
Halfway through the frame, Sadio Mané sent Neymar into the stands with a delightful dribble and skip inside, but the Senegalese attacker’s ensuing shot did not match what had come before, and swerved wildly off target.
The Reds could not be denied, though, and on the half hour mark, they worked the ball to Alexander-Arnold down the right flank. The 19-year old’s cross eluded Mané at the back post, but Andy Robertson was on hand to swing in a first-time cross from the other side, and with immaculate precision found Sturridge — sneakily evading his markers six yards out — who headed home with ease.
Liverpool were flying and could’ve had another almost immediately as the ball pinged around the box in front of the Kop, but Sturridge was unable to get a clean shot off and the visitors could clear their lines.
PSG produced two opportunities soon after, but Neymar’s free-kick bounced off the wall and out for a corner, while his clever corner to an unmarked Kylian Mbappé twelve yards out was hammered narrowly over the bar by the young Frenchman.
On the very next possession, the home side worked their way into the away area, and when Georginio Wijnaldum’s touch looked to take him past Juan Bernat, the Spanish fullback stuck out a leg and caught the Dutchman. Vice-captain Milner stepped up to the spot and drilled his penalty kick — his 13th in a red shirt — into the bottom corner, putting the Reds two goals up with ten minutes left in the half.
Thomas Tuchel’s side pulled one back five minutes later, when the linesman failed to call offside on Cavani as he reached for a Neymar cross, and Thomas Meunier swung a left boot at the rebounding ball, sending it flying into Alisson’s bottom corner. The French side scoring a goal was not entirely undeserved, but the manner in which it occurred reflected poorly on the refereeing crew.
The Reds went close once more before the whistle, as Alexander-Arnold drove to the byline and swung in a low cross, but Sturridge could only get a glancing touch to the ball six yards out, and Mané’s chase was unfruitful, with Areola diving onto the ball in front of him.
The expectation was the Paris Saint-Germain would come out swinging in the second half, but instead they... didn’t. Beyond pushing their attackers up fifteen yards out of possession, the French side showed no discernible change in order to force their way back into the game, and Liverpool comfortably and patiently stroked the ball around the pitch in search of a clear chance, all the while cutting out any budding counter attacks.
As a result, the second half puttered along quite slowly to start, and the clock showed 58 minutes before Mohamed Salah had a goal chalked off for a foul by Sturridge on Areola. The Reds could have few complaints about the decision, as the striker clearly caught the keeper’s groin with his studs, but for Salah, who spent much of the match cutting a frustrated figure, it was clearly irritating.
The hosts were turning the tempo back up now, though, and Sturridge should have made it three when Alexander-Arnold found him six yards out with a gorgeous cross, but the former Chelsea man failed to make clean contact on the ball, and saw it fall into the grateful hands of Areola.
Minutes later, a clever free kick over the top found Alexander-Arnold, but his cross was cut out, before Sturridge and Salah failed to capitalise on a counter opportunity, the Englishman walking himself into trouble instead of releasing the Egyptian, who had drifted too close to the defenders.
With twenty minutes to go, Roberto Firmino — cleared after his eye troubles that prevented him from making the starting XI — came on for Sturridge, and immediately after, Salah hooked a volley wide off the mark after van Dijk headed the ball down following a short corner routine. PSG had finally begun committing more players forward now, and Mané was called dubiously offside, having been played in by Salah.
Mané went close minutes later, after another obscene bit of skill saw him flick the ball over a sliding Presnel Kimpembe on the byline, but his left-footed effort from a narrow angle whizzed past the far post.
Salah then gifted PSG their equaliser with an abysmal giveaway in midfield, and after Neymar drove at the defense, the ball fell to Mbappé, who smashed the ball into the back of the net from 10 yards out. It was the visitors’ first shot of the second half, and it was utterly, utterly undeserved.
Not content with a home draw to one of Europe’s top teams, however, and not letting their heads drop from the injustice of the scoreline, Liverpool threw themselves forward in search of a win. Xherdan Shaqiri entered the fray in place of Salah, and Alexander-Arnold saw a close-range free-kick graze the head of Kimpembe and clip the top corner.
The home side relentlessly pressed forward, and a minute into injury time, they got their just rewards. Penning PSG in their own box, the Reds worked the ball to a fresh-looking Firmino, who cut onto his right foot with a shot feint, before slamming the ball into the far corner with a gorgeous effort. Cue pandemonium, pirate celebrations, final whistle.
As has been the case several times already this year, Liverpool win a game narrowly that they should have won comfortably. They were much the better side than a largely anemic Paris Saint-Germain, and while they didn’t create buckets of big chances, they conceded nearly none, holding the terrifying PSG frontline to scraps.
The midfield trio was definitely the star of the show, outbattling the visitors throughout, but almost every player acquitted themselves exceedingly well, and the Reds are off to the best possible start to their Champions League campaign.
Liverpool are two for two in their punishing September run now, and will look to keep the streak going when they host Southampton and an in-form Danny Ings on Saturday.