Following the farcical goings-on at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday — as well as its copious fallout — there was always a chance Liverpool could fail to find the necessary focus to overcome a weaker opponent at Anfield. Thankfully, the Reds did what they were supposed to, defeating Union St. Gilloise 2-0 after goals from Ryan Gravenberch and Diogo Jota as they go top of Group E, and although the visitors did create moments of genuine danger throughout, the win was a deserved one.
Below, then, we take a look at some winners and losers on the night, and pay our respects to the
Different Gravy: Not since Milan Baros back in 2002 has a Liverpool player scored or assisted in all of his first three starts for the club. Ryan Gravenberch hasn’t looked quite as imperious as fellow summer signing Dominik Szoboszlai, but the Dutchman has displayed dynamism, attacking verve, technical ability, and, perhaps above all, telling end product.
His first goal for the Reds wasn’t exactly a classic, destined to live long in the memory, pouncing as he did on a rebound following a spilled Trent Alexaner-Arnold shot from distance and dispatching it into an open net from point blank range, but they all count, and the 21-year old has already beaten his total tally of goal contribution from his Bayern Munich career.
He hasn’t made himself anything like undroppable quite yet, but anybody who had doubts about the young man’s quality upon his arrival will certainly have been forced to reconsider following his performances thus far.
Europa Odds: The Reds are clear favourites to go on and win the whole thing, now, having taken a commanding lead in the group and having made sure that a win and a draw from their final four matches will be enough to see them through to the knockout rounds.
One shouldn’t count chickens and so on, but given the strong start to the season and the relative quality of the competition compared to the Premier League and Champions League, Liverpool really are in with a good shot at silverware here.
Just don’t draw Sevilla, ever.
Control: It would be wrong to say that the lack of cutting edge almost lost Liverpool the game, because in truth, USG never really came that close to tying things up at the end, but it would have been nice to not have them come close at all. The loss of Mohamed Salah, Darwin and Trent in the second half really impacted the Reds’ ability to create and score goals, and it meant that the visitors were theoretically always just a slip or mistake away from equalising.
Beats conceding in the third minute, though.
Evolución: Darwin Núñez’s underlying numbers are even more impressive this season than they were last year, and he is the club’s joint leading scorer alongside Salah, averaging a goal every 85 minutes he’s on the pitch.
Nonetheless, you gotta score those, buddy. Especially after such a gorgeous sequence of play leading up to it.
Credit to the Opposition
An annoyingly unpenalised tendency to leave a leg in aside, USG gave a good account of themselves on their first ever outing at Anfield, pressing hard for the first 15 minutes, doing their best to limit their hosts’ attacking output with some solid deep block defending for the next hour, and then pushing for the equaliser towards the end.
Their loss was undoubtedly a deserved one, but the margins weren’t wider than that on another night, had the Reds been slightly more wasteful and had a few more bounces gone their way, the visitors could have left Anfield with something, indicating that Alexander Blessin and his men did a good job of minimising the impact of the talent gap between the two sides.
What Happens Next
Just one more game before yet another round of international fixtures, as the Reds travel south to take on a Brighton side that has lost three and drawn one of their last five. Should other results go their way, Liverpool could still go into the break at the top of the Premier League table, before the campaign begins anew with a Merseyside derby at Anfield on October 21st.