Liverpool secured a 2-1 victory at home Genk in the Champions League to put them top of Group E, on a night when they were far from their best in front of goal.

The Reds went ahead in the 14th minute through a close-range Gini Wijnaldum finish, but despite looking comfortable in possession they were left ruing missed chances when Genk equalised before half-time via a thunderous Mbwana-Samatta header.

Liverpool maintained their dominance and were able to see out the game after Oxlade-Chamberlain put them back in front just minutes after the restart, though doubts will remain in the Reds minds’ ahead of crucial Premier League clash against Manchester City on Sunday.

How it happened

Liverpool played their way in to the game in the early stages, with a couple of sloppy passes not doing much to dent Liverpool’s dominance.

After 14 minutes, Liverpool’s superiority came to fruition when Gini Wijnaldum put Liverpool ahead after a ricocheting Milner cross found itself at his feet for a close-range finish into the roof of the net.

However, the home side weren’t at their clinical best, despite repeatedly finding room behind the Genk full backs. A host of chances went begging, with Salah spurning a promsing opportunity to find the far corner after being slipped in one-on-one, and Oxlade-Chamberlain struggling to make the most of the space on the edge of the area.

In a rare venture forward, Joakim Maehle found space outside of James Milner before a dangerous whipped ball was put out for a corner by Virgil Van Dijk. Genk punished Liverpool’s laxity seconds later when Ally Mbwana-Samatta rose highest from the resulting corner to put the sides level at 1-1 going into half-time.

The home side started quickly after the break, and following a period of possession on the edge of the Genk area, Oxlade-Chamberlain found the room to turn and roll the ball beyond the reach of goalkeeper Gaetan Couke to put Liverpool back in front.

Genk did enough to keep the Liverpool’s nervous despite almost constant pressure, with one of their occasional forays into opposition territory rewarded with a free header from Dewaest, which floated harmlessly into Alisson’s gloves.

Despite often finding himself in dangerous areas, Mo Salah lacked his usual finesse in front of goal and squandered several chances, a worrying sign for Liverpool as the weekend’s crucial clash against Manchester City looms.

Subsitution Dieumerci Dnongala added energy as Genk searched for a way back into the game, though wasteful finishing meant their efforts were in vain. Jurgen Klopp perhaps had one eye on Sunday as he made use of all three changes.

The gulf of class ultimately showed as Genk could not create or convert anything meaningful, and Liverpool managed to see out the game and remain top of Group E.

Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said: “We didn’t finish our situations in the way we could have done. We had a lot of shots and some really big chances that we usually use. We didn’t do that and it kept the game open. That gave them a lot of energy.

“The players came through but you saw after a while it gets hard to get that rhythm and at the end of the game it was not there.

“We got a little bit of trouble but not really. It was job done. If we had scored two or three in the first half, nobody would have thought that couldn’t have happened. But it went 1-1 and then it got tricky. Now we are all good.”

Photo by Josh Brain