As Nunez struggles for form, Liverpool secures a much-needed win over Rangers to boost their UCL hopes.
LIVERPOOL, England – Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool improved their chances of reaching the Champions League knockout stage with a 2-0 victory over Rangers at Anfield.
Trent Alexander-Arnold scored a stunning free kick after being chastised for recent defensive errors. In the second half, Luis Diaz was fouled in the penalty box, which Mohamed Salah converted to give Liverpool the victory.
Rangers are in poor form, sitting at the bottom of their group and failing to score in any of their three Champions League matches this season.
JUMP TO: Player ratings | Best and worst performers | Highlights and notable moments | Post-match quotes | Key stats | Upcoming games
1. Liverpool cruises past Rangers to boost their Champions League hopes.
Liverpool earned a much-needed victory over Rangers, with a Trent Alexander-Arnold free kick and a Mohamed Salah penalty completing a comfortable win at Anfield and securing second place in Champions League Group A. Following a 4-1 loss to Napoli in the opening game last month, the Champions League runners-up extended their comeback in the group by moving three points ahead of Ajax in the race to qualify for the knockout stages. Despite the lack of incident and open-play goals, the victory was much-needed for Liverpool after a disappointing start to the league season that has left Jurgen Klopp's team in ninth place in the Premier League.
After his team drew 3-3 at home to Brighton on Saturday, Klopp said his team needed to get back to basics and focus solely on getting the job done. Fabinho was dropped from the starting lineup and replaced by Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara as Klopp switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation, but it was Liverpool's superior quality, not tactical tweaks, that proved to be the difference. The Scottish club struggled to compete with the English team, and Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side never threatened Liverpool. And, after a string of poor results, Rangers provided the ideal opponent for Liverpool to get back on track.It could be a different story next week at Ibrox, which is expected to be loud and intimidating, but another win in Glasgow will give Liverpool a firm grip on qualification, and it is difficult to see Rangers upsetting the Premier League team.
Darwin Nunez is looking for form and confidence.
Darwin Nunez looked like a world-beater on his debut for Liverpool against Manchester City in the Community Shield less than two months ago, but the £75 million summer signing from Benfica has now failed to score since the season's opening day after another goalless display against Rangers. Before this game, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp stated that he and his assistant Pep Lijnders spoke with the Uruguay international and attempted to reassure him that his performances would improve quickly. But, against Rangers, the 23-year-old lacked belief, and a number of missed chances will do little to boost his confidence.
Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor made three crucial saves to deny Nunez a vital first-half goal at Anfield, and while he provided a physical presence for Liverpool to play into up front, it rarely resulted in a neat move or interplay with his attacking teammates. Nunez's three-match ban for a red card against Crystal Palace, followed by two postponements due to Queen Elizabeth II's death, have combined to deny him the games and momentum he needed to find some consistency. Nunez has gone six games without scoring. Liverpool needs him to start scoring soon with Arsenal away on Sunday.
Rangers are out of their depth in the Champions League.
Rangers stunned Europe by reaching the Europa League final last season, but the Scottish club has received a harsh reality check in their first Champions League campaign since 2010. Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side were completely outclassed by Liverpool at Anfield, and the gap between the two sides was enormous, despite Jurgen Klopp's side still being far from their best form in the Premier League. In addition to goalkeeper Allan McGregor,Every Rangers player struggled to match up against their direct opponent, and they looked a shadow of the side that defeated Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig on their way to losing the Europa League final on penalties to Eintracht Frankfurt in Seville.
Simply returning to the Champions League group stages this season has been a major accomplishment for Rangers, who have seen rival Celtic enjoy a number of successful campaigns in the competition in recent years. Despite their proud history and formidable support, Rangers appear to be Champions League rookies, and their challenge now is to avoid a run of six consecutive defeats in Group A. They have no wins, no points, and no goals after three games, but it will be difficult to reverse that trend in the remaining games against Liverpool, Napoli, and Ajax.
Alisson 6; Alexander-Arnold 7; Matip 7; Van Dijk 7; Tsimikas 6; Henderson 6; Thiago 7 Salah, Jota, Diaz, and Nunez all have seven points.
Fabinho 6, Firmino 6, Elliott 6, Milner 6 are the substitutes.
Rangers: McGregor (9), Tavernier (5), Goldson (6), Davies (5), King (5), Barisic (5), Lundstram (5), Davis (6), Tillman (5), Kent (6), Morelos (4), Lundstram (5), Davis (6)
Sakala, Jack, Colak, Kamara, and Matondo are the substitutes.