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Liverpool close in on qualification with hard-fought win over Genk

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain again made the difference for the champions.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates his winner.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates his winner.
Image: EMPICS Sport

LIVERPOOL CLOSED IN on qualification for the knockout stage of the Champions League after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain shot them to a 2-1 win over Genk to put them top of Group E.

Oxlade-Chamberlain struck the winner with a neat turn and finish seven minutes after the break to put the European champions ahead after a bullet header from Genk’s Mbwana Samatta had cancelled out Georginio Wijnaldum’s opener.

The win leaves Jurgen Klopp’s side one point ahead of Napoli, who could only draw 1-1 with Salzburg, ahead of the meeting between the pair at Anfield later this month and the third-placed Austrians trail the English club by five points.

They will be favourites against the Italians, who are also stuttering in Serie A thanks to a run of just one win in five league matches, and the Reds have a formidable record in Europe that leaves them unbeaten home soil in five years.

England international Oxlade-Chamberlain’s winner comes after his brace in the 4-1 win in Belgium the last time out and an impressive performance as Klopp left out Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane ahead of the weekend’s match with Premier League title rivals Manchester City.

Wijnaldum opened the scoring amid an onslaught in the opening moments from the Reds when Genk failed to clear James Milner’s cross and cleverly flicked past Gaetan Coucke.

Liverpool had good chances to double their lead through Mohamed Salah and Nabi Keita before Samatta silenced the home crowd with a brilliant near post header from Bryan Heynen’s corner.

The leveller was no less than the Belgians deserved for a spirited effort in the later stages of the first half, but they were a goal down again soon the restart.

The lively Salah found Oxlade-Chamberlain with some neat footwork and the 26-year-old turned on a sixpence before lashing a left-footed shot into the bottom corner at the Kop end.

Genk didn’t give up and Alisson had to be at his best to stop Heynen with 10 minutes left, but the hosts managed to stave off the fight-back and make sure of a massive three points.

© – AFP, 2019 

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