On the road, playing against Maribor in Slovenia, Liverpool found themselves up against a surprisingly open opponent, one willing to at least try to go toe-to-toe and blow-for-blow with them. It didn’t work out so well for Maribor, and Liverpool piled on the goals on the way to a thumping, record-setting 7-0 victory.
The rematch at Anfield a few weeks later saw a much more cagey Maribor team, one that sought to limit chances against and packed all ten outfield players behind the ball. It worked. At least for a half. Liverpool were clearly the better side, but they were a better side continually left frustrated in their attacking efforts.
“I think it was a tough game, a lot tougher than the first game against Maribor,” said fullback Trent Alexander-Arnold, who set up Mohamed Salah’s winning opener early in the second with a delightful driven early cross that the Egytpian star flicked past the goalkeeper to give the hosts the goal their play deserved.
“We broke them down in the end and came away with three goals, three points, and a clean sheet,” Alexander-Arnold continued. “We’re delighted. I think this game they definitely came with a different game plan, to come and defend, but we broke it down eventually [even if] it took us until the second half.”
The win sent Liverpool clear at the top Group E and ensured that, at an absolute minimum, they will be playing in Europe in the spring in the Europa League. Having gotten their campaign on track after a slow start, though, that isn't the goal—winning the group and getting to the Champions League knockout rounds is.
And for 19-year-old Alexander-Arnold, who has now started the last three Champions League outings for the club he grew up at, the goal is to keep getting those mid-week minutes, to keep impressing with his strong performances, and more than anything else to help Liverpool keep winning games.
“It’s what everybody wants to play in,” he added. “I’ve played quite a lot in the Champions League this season and it’s a different experience than league games, under the floodlights, but the objectives are still the same—you’ve got to go and get the three points and that’s what we’ve done today.”