Liverpool beat Hoffenheim to edge closer to Champions League group stage
The Reds marched a step closer to the Champions League group stage after beating the German side at the Rhein-Neckar Arena in the first leg of the play-off round.
The German side struggled to find enough space in Liverpool’s box until the home team were awarded a penalty after Dejan Lovren brought down Serge Gnabry in the 10th minute. Andrej Kramaric took the penalty only for Simon Mignolet to spoil his day as he punched the ball with both hands to keep the game goalless.
Egypt international Mohamed Salah, who played the full 90 minutes, had a chance to score the opener for Liverpool but the ball was deflected to his right foot forcing him to make a poor shot.
As Hoffenheim sustained their control over the game, Liverpool won a free-kick on the 36th minute that was dispatched by 18-year-old Alexander-Arnold into an amazing curling effort to make it 0-1 for the visitors.
Just before half time, a failed clearance by Dejan Lovren sent Gnabry one-on-one with Mignolet who made another spectacular save which was deflected to Sandro Wagner whose shot rattled the post.
Hoffenheim continued holding on to the ball after the restart but without causing much damage. After Salah missed another golden chance, a James Milner cross was deflected by Håvard Nordtveit to find the net and make it 0-2 to the Reds with 15 minutes to go.
After a couple more saves from Mignolet, error-prone Lovren failed to put Mark Uth in the offside trap giving him the time and space to score a stunner for the home team.
Liverpool will take a one-goal advantage back to Anfield next week as they already have put one foot in the Champions League group stage after two years apart from the most elite European competition.
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