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Midtjylland 1, Liverpool 1 - Match Recap: Kindergarten Klopp Earns a Point

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The Reds draw in Denmark in a messy, review-addled affair.

FC Midtjylland v Liverpool FC: Group D - UEFA Champions League Photo by Gaston Szermann/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Midtjylland 1 - 1 Liverpool

Midtjylland: Scholz 62’
Liverpool: Salah 1’

Pre-Match

A surprisingly strong XI for the Reds — that is nonetheless the youngest ever fielded in the Champions League — and an attacking one, as Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota both start, along with Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino. In midfield, Leighton Clarkson is handed his Champions League debut, while Trent Alexander-Arnold captains the side, making his first start since October.

First Half

GOAL!!! The comedy stylings of Divock Origi and Mohamed Salah give the Reds a hilarious opener, as the latter blindly outruns a pass from the former, before winning the ball back from the last man, getting caught by a second defender, and accidentally toe poking the ball through the keepers legs, all before a minute is played. Delightful.

Onyeka booked for stamping on Origi just as the Belgian plays a horrific backwards pass to the opposition in his own third.

Minamino finds Salah in behind with a gorgeous first-time chip, but a delayed flag halts play after the Egyptian’s shot is saved. Not convinced the linesman’s call would have held up under review.

Clarkson finds Minamino down on the right flank and the Japanese attacker swings the ball in for Jota, but the effort from point-blank range is parried by the goalkeeper.

An extremely slick counter-attacking move ends with Salah cutting inside and shooting straight at the defender from 20 yards. Sumptuous flick from Jota in the build-up.

Another sleek counter-attack sees Origi’s needlessly hasty first-time effort roll wide of the far post, after Jota wins the ball and Naby Keïta sets up Salah and Origi for a two on one.

And at the other end Fabinho hacks the ball off the line after Kaba demolishes Trent on a high cross to the back post and Kelleher overcommits near side. Close!

Kelleher forced into action after another sweeping Midtjylland move ends with a high cross to the back post and a powerful effort from a narrow angle. Then Cools immediately slips at the other end to set Jota free, but the Portuguese attacker’s shot is parried away by the goalkeeper.

The half ends with an Alexander-Arnold cross dropping to Keïta, whose first touch takes him past his marker, but the Guinean’s powerful strike is straight at the keeper.

Half-time Thoughts

A ridiculous yakety-sax goal in the opening minute has been followed by an open, if somewhat chaotic 45 minutes that only occasionally have led to chances. Fabinho critical at the defensive end with a goal-line clearance, but the Reds have wasted a number of counter-attacking opportunities against one and two defenders.

Second Half

Very Large Billy Koumetio replaces Fabinho at the half.

Chaos at the back as a bouncing ball drops to Onyeka who hammers it off the crossbar, before a scissor kick from Kaba goes wide of the near post.

Midtjylland pushing hard in the opening minutes here, with the young Reds making it easy for them through a series of misplaced passes in their own third.

Kostas Tsimikas forced off with what appears to be a PCL strain after hyperextending his knee. Leighton Clarkson also struggling.

Back and forth action now, as Liverpool waste two excellent counter-attacks with terrible final passes, and Midtjylland get a penalty after Dreyer is brought down by Kelleher, having been called offside initially.

Goal. 1-1 as Scholz smashes the penalty past Kelleher, despite the goalkeeper getting a hand to the ball.

Andrew Robertson replaces Tsimikas and Jordan Henderson enters the fray in place of Naby Keïta.

Roberto Firmino comes on for Divock Origi with 20 minutes to go.

Scholz has another ball in the back of the net after a thundering effort from a narrow angle, but this one is called back for offside as the Danish defender is behind the goalkeeper when the ball comes back to him.

Kelleher with a huge save from a Sviatchenko header following a corner, before the Reds spoil a four on three counter attack yet again.

Sadio Mané replaces Jota with five minutes to go.

Henderson slides in to block the shot as Midtjylland break six on two after Clarkson gives the ball away cheaply following a corner at the other end.

Minamino tucks it home after Mané wins a leaping header in the box, but the goal is chalked off for handball, as Sadio headed the ball into his own hand before it dropped to Taki.

Just the eight minutes added then.

Final Thoughts

Turns out there’s a limit to how many children you can have in the spine of your team in the Champions League, and that number is all of them. Leighton Clarkson, Rhys Williams, Billy Koumetio and Caomhín Kelleher are all wonderfully talented players with great careers ahead of them, but playing all four of them was a bridge too far in this second half, as Midtjylland took control of proceedings, and likely should have scored more than one.

It matters not, of course, as top spot in Group D was secured before kick-off, and giving the children a run-out could never hurt anyone. Except Tsimikas, of course, who looks likely to miss some time following his knee injury.