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Insipid Reds ignore Jurgen Klopp's call and create unwanted slice of history

By James Pearce
23:20, 28 NOV 2018

Prepare to be put through the wringer once again.

Liverpool have previous for doing things the hard way in the Champions League and now another nerve-shredding finale to the group stage lies ahead.

It's an all or nothing, do or die showdown with Napoli at Anfield on December 11. Ecstasy or agony – there will be no middle ground. 

Beat Carlo Ancelotti's side either 1-0 or by two clear goals and the Reds' place in the last 16 of Europe's elite club competition will be secure.

Fail and there will be a major inquest into why a team which lit up the continent en route to the final in Kiev last season has fallen so short this time around.

What Liverpool need to do now to qualify in the Champions League after PSG defeat

Jurgen Klopp restored Liverpool's reputation in the Champions League but now he has created an unwanted slice of history. For the first time the Reds have lost all three away matches in the group stage.

The search for a remedy to that travel sickness goes on after a narrow defeat to Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes.
Klopp 's side ultimately paid the price for a painfully slow start which enabled Juan Bernat and Neymar to fire the French champions into a commanding lead.
The manager had demanded “big balls football” but there was a distinct lack of cojones on show as the insipid Reds were a distant second best.
James Milner's penalty gave the visitors hope and they were much improved after the break.

But for all their endeavour they created precious little. It was a damning stat that veteran keeper Gianlugi Buffon didn't have a single save to make.
A more pragmatic approach has served Liverpool well domestically so far this season as they have made a habit of grinding out results to launch a Premier League title challenge.
But in Europe they have lost their sparkle and now their hopes of progress hang on a knife-edge.

Leonardo DiCaprio was at the Parc des Princes but the Oscar winner wasn't even close to being the best actor in attendance.
That honour belonged to Neymar whose theatrics to repeatedly con free-kicks were a disgrace.

Klopp couldn't contain his fury at PSG's play-acting but although it left a sour taste that wasn't the reason why Liverpool were beaten. They need to look at themselves in the mirror.
The reality is that Liverpool were out-run and out-classed in midfield as Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum and Milner failed to stamp their authority on proceeding. That was the key battle and the Reds lost it miserably.
The atmosphere inside the Parc des Princes was lively before kick-off, but it was hardly comparable to the cauldron Liverpool had faced in Belgrade three weeks earlier.

Liverpool's big suspicion proves true as Champions League hopes hang in the balance
The Reds' biggest problem on this occasion was simply the array of quality they were up against.
PSG started like a team who had more riding on the outcome. They played with the greater urgency and tempo from the off.
Kylian Mbappe, who operated centrally behind Edinson Cavani, led the charge as he drifted into space and tormented Liverpool's backline.

With Neymar and Angel Di Maria flying down the flanks, there was no let-up. Klopp's side were under the cosh with Di Maria's dipping volley forcing a flying save from Alisson Becker.
At Anfield back in September Liverpool showed no respect for big reputations as they got in PSG's faces and unsettled them.
But here they made trouble for themselves as they gave Marco Verratti far too much space in the centre of the park.

The pressure told as PSG made the breakthrough on 14 minutes. Liverpool were carved open far too easily. Van Dijk stuck out a leg to stop Cavani latching on to Mbappe's pass but only succeeded it giving the ball to Bernat, who drilled low past Allison.
Italy international Verratti is a class act but he was hugely fortunate to stay on the pitch after somehow escaping with a yellow card for a reckless lunge on Joe Gomez.
Allison did brilliantly to stop Cavani from tucking away Mbappe's centre after more incisive interplay with Neymar.

However, the Brazil No 1 was helpless to prevent PSG from doubling their lead eight minutes before the break.
Thomas Tuchel's men scythed through the Reds like a hot knife through butter. Neymar and Mbappe combined expertly and the French teenager delivered an exquisite cross with the outside of his boot.
Allison heroically denied Cavani again but Neymar followed up to tuck away the rebound.

As an attacking force, Liverpool's best moments arrived when they hunted in packs and pressed PSG's under-worked backline into coughing up possession. Salah curled wide after Presnel Kimpembe's pocket had been picked.
Klopp shifted Milner across to the right in a bid to take advantage of the space created by Neymar's reluctance to track back.
Liverpool were crying out for inspiration and Sadio Mane provided it on the cusp of half-time.
The Senegal winger won the ball back and burst goalwards before Di Maria recklessly chopped him down.

Bizarrely, Polish referee Szymon Marciniak initially awarded a corner but after taking advice from his assistants he rightly pointed to the spot.
PSG complained bitterly but they should have reserved their anger for Di Maria. Milner blocked out the jeers and kept his nerve to give the Reds a lifeline.
Whether it was the timing of that goal or a rollicking from Klopp, Liverpool looked like a different team in the second half.
In midfield they were a lot more compact and, crucially, they played the game further up the field.

Suddenly, PSG looked vulnerable as the Reds' belief started to grow. Klopp clapped enthusiastically on the touchline as Firmino powered a header wide after great work from Andy Robertson.
Liverpool weren't helped by some bewildering decisions from Marciniak
as they picked up half a dozen bookings, but in truth they were their own worst enemies. Promising moments repeatedly came to nothing due to poor decision making.
Klopp unleashed Naby Keita, Daniel Sturridge and Xherdan Shaqiri in quick succession in a bid to find an equaliser but it rarely looked likely.

Alisson kept Liverpool in contention with a vital save from Marquinhos' header.
The late onslaught failed to materialise. Group C is going down to the wire and the Reds need to find another gear.

MATCH FACTS
PSG: Buffon, Kehrer, Silva, Kimpembe, Bernat, Verratti, Marquinhos, Mbappe (Rabiot 84), Neymar, Di Maria (Alves 65), Cavani (Choupo-Moting 65). Subs: Areola, Diaby, Nsoki, Draxler. GOALS: Bernat 14, Neymar 37. BOOKINGS: Verratti, Neymar.

LIVERPOOL: Alisson, Gomez, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson, Milner (Shaqiri 77), Henderson, Wijnaldum (Keita 66), Mane, Salah, Firmino (Sturridge 71). Subs: Mignolet, Fabinho, Matip, Alexander-Arnold. GOAL: Milner 45+1 pen. BOOKINGS: Wijnaldum, Gomez, Sturridge, Van Dijk, Robertson, Keita.

REFEREE: Szymon Marciniak.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Sadio Mane. Won the penalty and carried the fight in the second half.

Copyright  The Liverpool Echo

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Liverpool player ratings vs PSG - Alisson Becker and James Milner rare positives in Champions League
Ian Doyle runs the rule over the Reds after another difficult night in Europe for Jurgen Klopp's side

By Ian Doyle Liverpool reporter
10:35, 29 NOV 2018

Alisson Becker 7
Decent stop from Di Maria early on but sold himself for the opener and some of his distribution wasn't great. Unlucky for the second and made brilliant save to deny Marquinhos.

Joe Gomez 5
Slow to close down for the PSG first and given a tough time by Neymar. Lucky to escape serious injury after bad challenge from Verratti. Booked.

Virgil van Dijk 5
Lazy clearance prompted the opener and some of his heading was uncharacteristically careless. Not enough of a threat from set-pieces. Booked.

Dejan Lovren 5
Difficult evening for the Croat along with the rest of the Liverpool defence, but kept on going.

Andy Robertson 6
Not much chance to get forward in the first half but started to bomb on after the interval and stuck to his defensive responsibilities. Booked.

Jordan Henderson 4
Looked devoid of energy whenever PSG players ran at him, which was costly first half. More of the ball after the break but didn't do enough with said possession.
 
James Milner 7
Celebrated his 150th appearance for Liverpool by clumping Di Maria and later Neymar. The only visiting midfielder to consistently do his bit, kept his nerve to score from the spot. Subbed.

Gini Wijnaldum 4
His one first-half contribution was a booking for a foul on Neymar. Slightly more progressive after the break but his substitution wasn't a surprise.

Mohamed Salah 5
Nearly away with one early break and dragged a shot wide first half. Began to find space in the second half but couldn't make the most of it.
 
Roberto Firmino 5
Back as the central striker, was completely isolated first half but a bit more involved after break. Sent decent header wide. Subbed.

Sadio Mane 6
Barely in it until being irked into life for the powerful run that won the penalty for a foul by Di Maria. Livelier second half.

Substistutes

Naby Keita (for Wijnaldum 66) 6
Couldn't do much other than join most of his team-mates in being booked.
Daniel Sturridge (for Firmino 71) 5
No repeat of his PSG heroics in September. He was also booked.
Xherdan Shaqiri (for Milner 77)
Made no difference. At least he wasn't booked, though.

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