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Champions League

Player ratings as dominant Reds ease past Rangers

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Liverpool kept their Champions League campaign on track with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Rangers on Tuesday.

Following more domestic disappointment over the weekend in the form of a 3-3 draw with Brighton, Jurgen Klopp switched things up and went with a 4-2-3-1 formation. That tweak paid dividends almost immediately as Liverpool deservedly pulled ahead after just seven minutes.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side looked well out of their depth all night long at Anfield and would’ve been several goals behind by half-time if not for Allan McGregor. The veteran goalkeeper continued his heroics into the second half to ensure only a penalty got past him, despite his side’s clear struggles.

Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara dominated from the first whistle in a midfield double pivot, behind a fluid front four that clearly caused Rangers problems early on.

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A rash challenge from Ben Davies after six minutes resulted in his side going 1-0 down. Trent Alexander-Arnold punished the former Liverpool man by whipping a delightful free-kick into the top corner, leaving McGregor helpless despite his efforts.

The 40-year-old was called into action again after 16 minutes when Mohamed Salah slalomed into the penalty area virtually unchallenged, denying his curled effort spectacularly with a fingertip save.

Rangers struggled to settle into the game and were massively overrun in midfield. Darwin Nunez rotated well with his colleagues and Klopp’s side won back possession exceptionally quickly whenever they were caught out. A rare chance for Rangers from a set-piece saw James Tavernier send a free-kick straight into the Liverpool wall after 18 minutes; a summary of their slow start.

Liverpool continued to knock the ball around with ease and almost doubled their lead after half an hour when Virgil van Dijk headed wide. McGregor crucially kept the deficit to just one goal heading into half-time, denying Nunez on several occasions in a fine individual display.

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Steven Davis won a second ball high up the field early in the second half which allowed Ryan Kent to attack towards Alexander-Arnold, but his low cross was poor. Kent and Rangers’ general lack of belief was highlighted minutes later when Luis Diaz went down the other end and earned a penalty after being hacked down by Leon King, following a sharp dart into the penalty box.

Salah stepped up from the spot to make it 2-0 to the Reds after 53 minutes, with Rangers now looking completely out of ideas.

Despite substitute Rabbi Matondo forcing a brilliant block off the line out of Kostas Tsimikas late on, Liverpool saw out proceedings comfortably in what was a poor evening for Rangers, who must be braver going forward.

Darwin Nunez
Nunez was locked in a war with McGregor / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/GettyImages

GK: Alisson – 6/10 – Twiddled his thumbs for most of the evening, but came up with a big save at the end.

RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7/10 – Absolutely inch-perfect free-kick. Mr. Whippy.

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CB: Joel Matip – 6/10 – Easy night at the office. Spurned a golden opportunity to score late on by heading wide.

CB: Virgil van Dijk – 6/10 – Completely dominated Morelos alongside Matip. Should’ve scored in the first half, also putting a free header wide.

LB: Kostas Tsimikas – 7/10 – A confident game from the Greek international who displayed his ability with a number of neat touches in high areas. Brilliant clearance late on.

DM: Jordan Henderson – 7/10 – Swept up well on the rare occasions Rangers broke forward and did a good job of keeping tempo.

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DM: Thiago Alcantara – 8/10 – You cannot give this man the space to stroll around picking passes like he did. Played with slippers on. Immense.

RW: Mohamed Salah – 8/10 – Given far too much time and space to run at defenders, which meant he thrived. Deserved his goal.

AM: Diogo Jota – 6/10 – Picked up a few nice positions, but looked like a player that had been out of the team for some time. Untidy.

LW: Luis Diaz – 7/10 – Barely involved in the first half; gets the ball in the second half and immediately wins his side a penalty. So dangerous when given space.

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ST: Darwin Nunez – 7/10 – Lacked awareness in possession when trying to pick out the right pass or firing beyond McGregor, but occupied defenders very well and was a nightmare to keep quiet. Learn to pick a corner, Darwin.

SUB: Roberto Firmino – (70′ for Jota) – 6/10

SUB: Fabinho – (70′ for Henderson) – 6/10

SUB: Harvey Elliott (80′ for Nunez) – N/A

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SUB: James Milner (80′ for Thiago) – N/A
SUB: Joe Gomez (90′ for Alexander-Arnold) – N/A

Manager – Jurgen Klopp – 9/10 – Credit to the German for trying something different with his team’s shape. His side looked much more balanced and – crucially – refreshed. Attacked with more purpose and fluidity.

Allan McGregor
A brilliant performance from the 40-year-old / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/GettyImages

GK: Allan McGregor – 8/10 – Had absolutely no chance of getting to Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick, but still single-handedly kept Rangers in the game throughout the night. And ruined Diaz’s evening.

RWB: James Tavernier – 5/10 – With all the action taking place down the opposite flank, Tavernier had a somewhat more straightforward evening.

CB: Leon King – 4/10 – The teenager wasn’t helped out enough by his colleagues in dealing with Liverpool’s relentless attacks. Showed his inexperience.

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CB: Connor Goldson – 5/10 – Organised his defence well considering the midfield was outnumbered and King was thrust in despite his inexperience.

CB: Ben Davies – 3/10 – An unsavoury return to Anfield – dragged around the place by Nunez and bailed out by McGregor.

LWB: Borna Barisic – 4/10 – Constantly caught in no man’s land thanks to Salah and Nunez. Will need a good lie down after that .

RM: Malik Tillman – 4/10 – Completely out of the game with Rangers constantly chasing. A shame they couldn’t try and play towards him more.

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CM: John Lundstram – 3/10 – Didn’t know whether he was coming or going when Liverpool attacked. Looked very lost.

CM: Steven Davis – 4/10 – A similar story for Davis. Too much ground to cover and couldn’t keep track of runs in behind. Rangers could’ve done with another midfielder.

LM: Ryan Kent – 5/10 – Looked the most lively for Rangers when they did have possession, which isn’t saying much.

ST: Alfredo Morelos – 3/10 – Struggled immensely to hold up the ball, which made life difficult for his teammates. Barely in the game at all.

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SUB: Ryan Jack – (66′ for Davis) – N/A

SUB: Fashion Sakala – (66′ for Tillman) – N/A

SUB: Antonio Colak – (73′ for Morelos) – N/A

SUB: Rabbi Matondo (81′ for Kent) – 6/10 – So close to scoring at the end.

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SUB: Glen Kamara (81′ for Davies) – N/A

Manager – Giovanni van Bronckhorst – 3/10 – Of course you have to be wary when heading to Anfield, but Rangers were set up far too conservatively. They were overrun in midfield and lacked an outlet.

Player of the match – Allan McGregor (Rangers)

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Champions League

How can I watch the 2022/23 Champions League last 16 draw?

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So, the excitement of the group stage is over. Having witnessed some European powers breeze through their groups and others progress by the skin of their teeth, we can now look forward to the thrill and the ‘there’s nothing quite like it’-feeling of Champions League knockout football.

Here’s all you need to know about the Champions League round of 16.

The draw for the first round of this campaign’s Champions League knockout phase will take place on Monday 7 November at 11:00 (GMT).

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How to watch the 2022/23 Champions League last 16 draw in the UK

How to watch the 2022/23 Champions League last 16 draw in the United States and Canada

The eight group winners and the eight second-placed sides will feature in the Champions League round of 16 stage.

All four English teams that entered the competition have made it through to the knockout phase, with Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City joining Napoli, Porto, Bayern Munich, Benfica and reigning champions Real Madrid as the eight seeded sides.

Meanwhile, Liverpool are joined by Club Brugge, Inter, Eintracht Frankfurt, Milan, RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain as the unseeded sides.

The table-toppers and runners-up will be drawn against each other – apart from those that competed in the same group and those from the same Associations.

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We’ll be able to see these European heavyweights lock horns after the turn of the year, with the first legs set to be played over the 14 and 15 February, and the second legs over the 21 and 22.

We’ve got to get through a World Cup first, though.



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Who could Tottenham face in the 2022.23 Champions League knockout stages?

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After a two-year absence from the Champions League knockout stages, Tottenham Hotspur will return to the competition’s last 16 this campaign.

Spurs famously earned a runner-up finish in 2018/19 before crashing out at the round-of-16 stage with a 4-0 aggregate defeat to RB Leipzig the following year. After a sixth-placed Premier League finish in 2019/20 to boot, the 2020/21 season saw them bow out at the same stage in the Europa League before a humiliating group-stage exit from the Europa Conference League last term.

But, after topping a very competitive Group D this time around, all that seems irrelevant now. So, who could Tottenham face in the knockout stages of this season’s Champions League?

Tottenham’s return to Europe’s top table has yielded mixed results.

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Frustration was the prevalent theme of their Matchday 1 bout with Marseille, although the French giants were eventually put to the sword by Richarlison’s first two Spurs goals to ensure Antonio Conte’s side enjoyed a winning return to the Champions League.

Things subsequently got a little murkier for Conte’s men as a 2-0 defeat to Sporting Club and a goalless draw with Eintracht Frankfurt left them second in the group just a point above the basement spot.

Amid a drop in domestic form, however, came results in Europe. Having earned a 3-2 victory over Frankfurt when welcoming the German outfit to north London on Matchday 4, Spurs’ 1-1 tie with Sporting on Matchday 5 left Group D wide open before its conclusion.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s dramatic crashing strike in the final seconds of Conte’s side’s visit to the French Riviera, however, ensured they flew back to England from the Stade Velodrome with a table-topping 2-1 comeback victory.

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Tottenham have shared the goals around somewhat in this year’s Champions League campaign, with Son Heung-min and Richarlison both tied on two strikes to top their scoring charts, while Ivan Perisic boasts a squad-leading three assists.

As group winners (just about), Spurs can look forward to a clash with one of the eight runners-up from the group stage.

This leaves a few very tasty options for the neutrals to look forward to. Being from the same Association, we won’t see Tottenham face Liverpool in a rematch of the 2019 final, although we could see them battle Leipzig in a repeat of that last-16 demolition (of Spurs) back in 2020.

Other intriguing matchups include potential battles with either of the Milan teams, Borussia Dortmund or Paris Saint-Germain, while Club Brugge also represent potential opponents.

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Champions League

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia: ‘My dream is to win the Champions League with Real Madrid’

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Khvicha Kvaratskhelia: 'My dream is to win the Champions League with Real Madrid'

Napoli winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who we rank among the strong competitors for Ballon d’Or next year, has stood up on his greatest dream.

In a meeting with Corriere dello Sport, Kvaratskhelia: “My biggest dream? To win the Champions League. With who? With Real Madrid.

“Since I was a kid, I was a Real Madrid fan. Always watched their games,” the winger added in the interview just before joining Napoli for just €10m from Dinamo Batumi.

The Georgian technician has registered as many as 8 goals and 10 assists in just 17 games for the Neapolitans this season.

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It’s why many top clubs seem to have their sights set on the Georgian international. But the man of the moment only dreams of Real Madrid.

Source: Corriere dello Sport (h/t Total Cristiano @ Twitter)
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