Roberto Firmino’s stoppage-time strike saw Liverpool claim a dramatic 3-2 victory in their Champions League opener against Paris Saint-Germain at Anfield. It looked like the Reds were going to have to settle for a point when Thomas Meunier and Kylian Mbappe cancelled out first-half strikes from Daniel Sturridge and James Milner.
But the Brazilian – who started on the bench with an eye injury – had the final say to continue the Reds’ winning start to the 2018/19 campaign. The hosts started the game on the front foot and Alphonse Areola was forced into making early saves from Virgil van Dijk and Milner. Mohamed Salah’s menacing corner was then just tipped over the bar by the PSG stopper as Liverpool asked even more questions of the French champions.
PSG grew into the game and had their first effort on goal when Neymar stung the hands of Alisson Becker. But the Reds took the lead on 30 minutes when Sturridge, recalled to the starting XI in place of Firmino, powerfully headed Andy Robertson’s inch-perfect cross into the net. Liverpool smelled blood and won a penalty five minutes later when Georginio Wijnaldum was tripped by Juan Bernat. Milner made no mistake from the spot to give the Reds a dream 2-0 lead.
However, Thomas Tuchel’s men pulled one back five minutes before the break when Thomas Meunier’s insinctive volley nestled into the net after the ball rebounded off Robertson. Jurgen Klopp’s side started the second-half well and they thought they went 3-1 up but Mohamed Salah’s 57th-minute strike was disallowed after Sturridge clashed with Areola.
And Sturridge then missed a glorious chance to restore Liverpool’s two-goal lead but the striker could only weakly head Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross straight at the PSG keeper. Sadio Mane ‘s brilliant run and shot almost put the game to bed on 81 minutes.
And the visitors made them pay a minute later when Mbappe fired home Neymar’s lay-off to silence Anfield after Salah gave the ball away in a bad position. On 86 minutes, Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick was deflected just wide of the goal while Van Dijk did well to block Julian Draxler’s goalbound shot.
But in the first minute of added time, Firmino picked the ball up on the right before powering the ball home to send the Liverpool faithful wild.
Firmino will get all the headlines but Milner was the best player on the pitch.
Henderson and Wijnaldum were also outstanding and bossed the midfield battle but Milner was just that little bit better in what has been a fantastic season for the 32-year-old so far. His assured penalty also set Liverpool on their way to victory.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
The Reds were brilliant for most of the game and totally outplayed their opposition but almost let the game slip from their grasp when Mbappe got the late equaliser.
However, Firmino’s goal was a brilliant piece of quality. A goal fit to win any match – and his celebration wasn’t too bad either!