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Dublin: 5 °C Friday 15 November, 2019
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THE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS haven’t always convinced in their defence – beaten 2-0 in Naples on the opening day, Liverpool then mingled a breathtaking attacking performance with a three-goal implosion and their flinty resolve in a roller-coaster 4-3 win at home to Salzburg on matchday two.

Tonight Liverpool travel to face Belgian champions Genk, who have been equally confounding in the competition thus far. 

They were cartoonishly soft in a 6-2 loss to Salzburg in the group opener, but then held Napoli to a goalless draw at home in their second outing. 

The Group game is getting the minute-by-minute coverage here on The42 tonight, so get in touch below the line, email gavincooney@the42.ie, or tweet @gcooney93. 

We’ll keep you up to date with the other games, too, including the other tie in this group: Salzburg’s home tie with Napoli. 

Kick off at the Luminus Arena in Belgium is at 8pm, and team news is coming up…

He missed Sunday’s draw at Old Trafford – and boy was he missed – but Mo Salah is back and starts for Liverpool tonight. There’s a raft of other changes, with Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain starting in midfield. James Milner is expected to play at right-back in place of the ill Trent Alexander-Arnold while Joel Matip misses out with injury too, so Dejan Lovren partners Virgil van Dijk. 

Joe Gomez, who spent last season as first-choice centre-back and second-choice right-back, is on the bench and apparently not even third-choice in either position at the moment. 

Divock Origi drops to the bench too, against the club with whom he started out. 

Meanwhile, here’s the Genk side.

Couple of 5.55pm kick-offs tonight, with 15 minutes left in each:  Ajax and Chelsea are goalless in Amsterdam, while RB Leipzig lead Zenit 2-1 thanks to this howitzer by Marcel Sabitzer. 

Impressive stuff from Chelsea: Michy Batshuayi has put them 1-0 up away to Ajax with just five minutes to go in Amsterdam. 

Liverpool’s European record under Klopp has been largely outstanding – they’ve yet to lose a two-legged tie in either the Champions League or Europa League under their manager, for example – but they have an oddly wretched away record in the group stages under Klopp. 

They lost in Naples this season, lost all three of their group games away from Anfield last season, and won just one of three the season before: a 7-0 win in Maribor more than two years ago. 

Some pre-game controversy here: an explicit banner of Divock Origi appeared in the Liverpool end before kick-off, but was soon removed. Liverpool have condemned it as “highly offensive and inappropriate.” 

Full-time in the early kick-offs, as Chelsea secure a hugely impressive 1-0 win away to Ajax, while RB Leipzig see off Zenit 2-1. 

Not long to kick-off in Belgium, as the sides line up for the anthem. 

Genk are going for physicality against Liverpool tonight – Van Dijk and Lovren will have their hands full with 6ft 7′ striker Paul Onuachu. It means that Ianis Hagi – son of Gheorghe  – is on the bench. 

Kick-off! 

1′ – Genk 0-0 Liverpool 

Early confidence from Naby Keita – his first touch is a flick to Robertson off his back. As expected, James Milner starts at right-back. 

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2′ – GOAL! Genk 0-1 Liverpool (Oxlade-Chamberlain)

Liverpool take the lead in farcically easy fashion. Fabinho fizzes a pass to Oxlade-Chamberlain in oceans of room on the edge of the box, and he has time to stop, take a touch, and snap a low shot into Coucke’s bottom right-hand corner. 

5′ – Genk 0-1 Liverpool

Ooof! Chance for Genk! A long hoik up the channel from Genk breaks nicely for Samatta, who breaks clear of the Liverpool defence to one-on-one with Alisson…but drags his shot badly wide. A warning sign for Liverpool! 

6′ – Genk 0-1 Liverpool 

Penalty shout for Liverpool! Mane floats a cross to Milner at the right-hand edge of the box. Milner stands a cross to the back post, and Firmino is blatantly nudged in the back as he was ready to nod the ball in. The officials are unmoved – even by Klopp’s VAR gesticulations on the sideline. 

8′ – Genk 0-1 Liverpool

Fabulous save by Alisson! Another ball over the top of the Liverpool defence catches them napping, Onuachu is first to pounce, but as he takes the ball closer to Alisson, the Brazilian ‘keeper blocks the effort with his right hand and gathers the rebound. Blimey – this game is open. 

9′ – Genk 0-1 Liverpool 

Break in play as Onuachu is slow to pick himself up from a challenge with van Dijk. This game is wide-open, and Liverpool look vulnerable to balls over the top of their defence. 

11′ – Genk 0-1 Liverpool 

Better spell of controlled possession by Liverpool ends when Oxlade-Chamberlain screws a cross-field pass badly out of play. 

15′ – Genk 0-1 Liverpool 

Liverpool look positively regal in possession, and are smothering Genk on the few occasions they give the ball away – Keita the latest to win the ball back within seconds of losing it. After those couple of early warning signs, Liverpool are pretty dominant now. 

Elsewhere in the group – Napoli have taken the lead away to Salzburg, through Dries Mertens. 

18′ – Genk 0-1 Liverpool 

Again Liverpool look vulnerable on a long, raking pass, this time made its way to Junya Ito in space vacated by Andy Robertson. As he advanced into the penalty area, though, he was faced with the looming spectre of, erm, Lovren, and he dawdled and just fell over in the box. 

20′ – Genk 0-1 Liverpool 

Robertson earns Liverpool a corner by bouncing a cross off Mahele’s face. The cross comes in and goalkeeper Coucke makes a hames of it, but Mane’s shot in the area doesn’t find its way through a thicket of defenders. 

22′ Genk 0-1 Liverpool 

Right, here you go – Onuachu has a good touch for a big man. His hold up play sets up a break for Genk down the left which ends in a free-kick in a fairly decent position…

23′ – Genk 0-1 Liverpool

…and Alisson fists the ball clear just before it lands on Onuachu’s head. Good goalkeeping. 

24′ Genk 0-1 Liverpool 

What a chance for Mane! Audacious stuff from Firmino, who plays a rabona one-two with Mane, but his shot is blocked by the feet Coucke! 

26′ Genk 0-1 Liverpool

Goal disallowed! More drama, as Genk’s joy at an equaliser is cut short. A cross from Ito on the right finds Onuachu arriving at the back post, who rises above Milner at the back post to nod the ball beyond Alisson. 

It seems that the goal was initially ruled out for an offside, but there’s a lengthy VAR review…

28′ Genk 0-1 Liverpool

Decision stands and the goal is disallowed. Liverpool retain their lead – with a sharp reminder on Genk’s threat on the break. 

29′ Genk 0-1 Liverpool 

Naby Keita wins a free-kick 25 yards from goal, and Mo Salah looks interested…

30′ – Genk 0-1 Liverpool 

..Salah curls the free-kick over the crossbar. 

31′ – Genk 0-1 Liverpool 

More gorgeous link up play by Liverpool – Mane rolls the ball behind his standing leg and flicks the ball to his left for the onrushing Robertson, who fizzes a first-time effort at the goalkeeper. 

32′ – Genk 0-1 Liverpool 

Big chance for Salah! Good movement in the box by Salah, but he is tracked by Cuesta, who conceded the corner. It’s an outswinger that finds Lovren, who heads the ball toward goal, where Salah is standing in loads of space – but he can only nod the ball tamely wide. 

This game is absolutely great fun. 

Ah, that old chestnut. Or coconut. 

36′ – Genk 0-1 Liverpool 

Liverpool win another corner off Cuesta, this time through Firmino. Milner’s set-piece doesn’t clear the first man, though, and Genk survive. 

38′ – Genk 0-1 Liverpool 

Right-back Joakim Maehle beats Robertson by the corner flag, and hoists a cross to the back post that’s slightly too high for Onuachu. Good play by Maehle, albeit ruined by the quality of the cross. They maintain a threat, mind…

40′ – Genk 0-1 Liverpool

Another big chance for Genk! The ball breaks for Ito on the right, who whips a superb ball across the box for Samatta, but the striker just can’t get the connection to poke the ball past Alisson. Liverpool furiously remonstrate looking for offside. Genk have taken over this game in the last 10 minutes or so! 

In the group’s other game – Salzburg have equalised with Napoli. It could prove to be a very good night’s work for Liverpool yet. 

44′ – Genk 0-1 Liverpool 

Robertson gets a telling off – but nothing more – for kicking Maehle. Free-kick for Genk, which is aimed for Onuachu…but he’s offside. 

Two minutes of added time will be played at the end of this half. 

That Liverpool scored with their first attack augured a hammering, but it hasn’t turned out that way – sure Liverpool have fluffed a couple of good chances, but Genk have looked dangerous themselves, particularly with long balls hoiked behind Liverpool’s attacking full-backs – James Milner’s lack of pace at right-back a concern on that note. 

Genk have forced Alisson into one great save and VAR into some offside geometry, but they trail at the break. 

Back in 15. 

Half-time scores: 

Group E: Genk 0-1 Liverpool; Salzburg 1-1 Napoli 

Group F: Inter Milan 1-0 Borussia Dortmund; Slavia Prague 0-1 Barcelona

Group G: Benfica 1-0 Lyon

Group H: Lille 0-0 Valencia 

And a couple of results from earlier this evening…

Group G: RB Leipzig 2-1 Zenit St Petersburg

Group H: Ajax 0-1 Chelsea 

Peeeep – the second-half is underway! 

46′  Genk 0-1 Liverpool 

We continue where we left off – Robertson flies forward and is caught out, and Genk try to slip a pass into the right channel for the electric Ito. Van Dijk, however, shows his electric pace in sprinting back to mop up the danger. 

47′ – Genk 0-1 Liverpool 

Cuesta lazily hits a clearance off Firmino’s back, and the ball breaks to Salah. Salah’s attempted thread-through for Firmino is too heavy, though, and it runs through to Coucke. 

48′ Genk 0-1 Liverpool

Yito is giving Robertson a hell of a game down Genk’s right: he beats him initially but the defender does so well to recover and block a cross. Corner Genk…that is overhit and ends in a throw-in on the far side for Liverpool. 

50′ – Genk 0-1 Liverpool 

More pressure for Liverpool to endure. Omuachu – who has been great – swivels clear of Fabinho and Oxlade-Chamberlain, feeds the ball to Uronen whose cross hits Milner. Liverpool then deal with the throw-in. 

52′ – Genk 0-1 Liverpool 

Superb interception in the box by Cuesta takes the ball off Keita’s toe. Genk break with Samatta, but he is foiled by an equally good Lovren tackle midway into Liverpool’s half. 

54′ – Genk 0-1 Liverpool 

Oxlade-Chamberlain’s loose pass foils a Liverpool attack and allows Genk to counter again – but Yito’s cross hits van Dijk’s head and dribbles out of harm’s way. 

This is far from comfortable for Liverpool…

55′ – Genk 0-1 Liverpool 

Mo Salah has looked pretty rusty tonight, on his return from an ankle injury. 

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56′ – GOAL! Genk 0-2 Liverpool (Oxlade-Chamberlain) 

WHAT. A. GOAL! 

Firmino squares a pass on the edge of the box to Oxlade-Chamberlain, who nonchalantly flicks the first time via the outside of his right boot and into the net…via the crossbar. 

It’s a gorgeous goal, that obeys Yeboah’s Law – goals look about 35% better when they go in off the bar. 

61′ – Genk 0-2 Liverpool 

Liverpool are knocking the ball about with conviction now, and are pretty comfortable. 

62′ – Genk 0-2 Liverpool 

Liverpool’s first change: Joe Gomez is coming on for Andy Robertson. It means Milner will go across to left-back. Robertson was troubled by Yito’s pace on that flank, it will be interesting to see how Milner deals with it…

64′ – Genk 0-2 Liverpool 

Milner makes an immediate attacking option from left-back. He cuts into the box off the left, the ball breaks back to Keita who threads a lovely ball through for Milner, whose cross is blocked for a corner. 

Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the corner…and hits the first man.

Genk make a change – left-winger Theo Bongonda makes wayt for Dieumerci Ndongala. 

Significant goal in Salzburg – Napoli are back in front and lead RB Salzburg 2-1. 

67′ – Genk 0-2 Liverpool 

More good defending by Genk, this time Cuesta nicks the ball from Salah’s toe just before he shoots. The corner finds van Dijk’s head, but the Dutch defender puts it over the bar.

70′ – Genk 0-2 Liverpool 

Liverpool waste a big chance! Lucumi plays a wild ball directly to Mane, who feeds Firmino, whose attempt to cut back is foiled by Cuesta. Then Genk counter – and Gomez does superbly to cover behind as Yito tried to release Samatta! Gomez then gets in the way of an attempted Genk throw-in, for which he is booked. 

71′ – Genk 0-2 Liverpool 

This time Salah is sloppy – he overcooks a pass for Oxlade-Chamberlain and the ball runs out of play. 

72′ Genk 0-2 Liverpool 

And that’s Oxlade-Chamberlain’s night over. He is replaced by Gini Wijnaldum. 

Blimey – Salzburg have equalised against Napoli again, it’s 2-2! Liverpool heading to the top of Group E as it stands…

…and scratch that, because Napoli have hit back straight away and lead 3-2, Insigne! 

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76′ – GOAL! Genk 0-3 Liverpool (Mane)

Another wonderful Liverpool goal. Firmino to Salah to Mane in the penalty area, who delicately dinks the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper. 

79′ Genk 0-3 Liverpool 

Final change for Liverpool – Firmino comes off for Divock Origi, who runs on to a warm reception at the club at which he began his career. His name is being chanted by the home support. 

80′ Genk 0-3 Liverpool 

Change for Genk – Stephen Odey for Onuachu, who did really well up front. 

81′ – Genk 0-3 Liverpool 

Sander Berge lashes a long-range shot over the crossbar from distance, to the excitement of the crowd but far from the uneasiness of Alisson. 

83 – Genk 0-3 Liverpool 

The ball breaks in the box for Wijnaldum, who snatches at a shot and pulls it wide. Should have done better. 

83′ – Genk 0-3 Liverpool 

Odey gets booked for a fairly harmless foul on Keita. 

84′ -  Genk 0-3 Liverpool 

Ndongala tries a bicycle kick in the penalty area…and alas, it goes wide. 

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86′ – GOAL! Genk 0-4 Liverpool (Salah)

Exceptional stuff from Salah. He takes the ball to feet with his back to goal, Cuesta gets too tight to him and so Salah rolls him and flicks the ball beyond another defender to find space and then knocks the ball in off the post. 

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87′ – GOAL! Genk 1-4 Liverpool (Odey)

And Genk immediately get a goal back! Lovren gets caught in possession by the touchline, Ndongala sorties into the box beyond Gomez and pulls the ball back for Stephan Odey, who swivels and sweeps the ball beneath Alisson. 

A goal they probably deserve. 

90′ – Genk 1-4 Liverpool 

We’ll have three minutes of added time, as Ianis Hagi – yeah, that Hagi – replaces Junya Ito. 

90+2′ – Genk 1-4 Liverpool 

Liverpool aren’t closing this out with grace – the ball runs across the box and Milner collides with Alisson as the goalkeeper slides in to collect the ball, and it squirms free. Alisson gathers at the second attempt. 

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FT: Genk 1-4 Liverpool 

It was comfortable for Liverpool in the end, in spite of a few nervy moments in the first-half. Their attacking class told in the end, and this is Liverpool’s first group stage away win in two years. 

Let’s round out the night with the results… 

Group E: Genk 1-4 Liverpool; Salzburg 2-3 Napoli 

Group F: Inter Milan 2-0 Borussia Dortmund; Slavia Prague 1-2 Barcelona

Group G: RB Leipzig 2-1 Zenit St Petersburg; Benfica 2-1 Lyon 

Group H: Ajax 0-1 Chelsea; Lille 1-1 Valencia 

Thanks for following – bye! 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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