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How Liverpool’s players rated as they secured Champions League football with victory over Hoffenheim

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Liverpool

Liverpool came into this tie knowing that they only had to avoid defeat in order to qualify for the Champions League group stage, but they went all out attack in the opening stages and blew their German opposition away.

Emre Can twice found himself in the right place at the right time, either side of Mohamed Salah’s pouncing on a deflection off the woodwork, and Liverpool raced to a 3-0 lead to all but put the tie to bed within the first 21 minutes of the game.

Hoffenheim did fight back, with Mark Uth and Sandro Wagner scoring as the Germans capitalised on some weak defending, but Roberto Firmino put his name on the scoresheet thanks to some good work from Jordan Henderson to ensure that the result was safe.

Here are how the Reds rated in an impressive victory:

Simon Mignolet – 6

Occasionally flapping at crosses, Mignolet did not have as much to do as he did in the first leg. Little he could have done about either goal, he was not really challenged.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7

Looked cool, calm and collected. The uninformed spectator would never have known that it was only his second appearance in European football as he linked up superbly with the Liverpool attack. He appeared to be struggling with a slight knock before being replaced by Joe Gomez in the second half.

Joel Matip – 6

Let his man drift away from him to cause Dejan Lovren problems for the second goal, he was calm and collected in possession. His work was cut out alongside Lovren at the back as he tried to keep the back four organised.

Dejan Lovren – 5

Woeful defending gifted Hoffenheim a goal and was then beaten in the air for his second as he continued to fail to convince. He looked wasteful in possession and seemed to have switched off at times. His attitude tonight will not have impressed Jurgen Klopp in the slightest.

Alberto Moreno – 7

Many expected Andrew Robertson to be expected ahead of him, but Moreno got the nod and he produced a solid display at the back. Rampaging forwards, he remained defensively solid where he previously has slipped up.

Jordan Henderson – 8

Excellent pressing to set up Roberto Firmino to score in a more advanced role, his pass to the Brazilian was an unselfish move. He’s had a very slow start to the season but this display was more like the kind of form that Reds fans will have expected from their captain.

Emre Can – 9

Scored a brace and had a real instinct, much like a centre forward, to make excellent runs into the box to get on the end of the crosses from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah. His all round performance was superb and whilst he did go for it, he didn’t allow himself to get carried away in the hunt for a hat-trick.

Georgino Wijnaldum – 7

Not quite as influential as he is at his very best, he once again looked like a creative attacking force and pressed high when given the opportunity. It was the best display of the season so far from the Dutchman.

Mohamed Salah – 8

Electric pace and skill which will surely be giving the Hoffenheim defence nightmares for days and weeks to come. He will be pleased to have got on the scoresheet as he found himself in the right place at the right time.

Roberto Firmino – 8

Rewarded with a goal for a positive display in which he looked to orchestrate every Liverpool attack through the middle. His movement caused havoc as he drifted wide and deep and gave the German defence a real headache.

Sadio Mane – 9

A constant threat down the left flank, the Senegal international was simply sensational. He was unselfish and constantly looking to play others in and his deliveries were good too. He may not have got on the scoresheet but that was the only way his performance could have improved.

Subs
Joe Gomez (for Alexander-Arnold, 64) – 7

Dominant in the air, his introduction did not disrupt Liverpool’s defensive solidity.

James Milner (for Can, 70) – 7

Sat deep in midfield and looked to play a kind of playmaker role. Protected the defence well and played some good long balls.

Ragnar Klavan (for Mane, 89) – N/A

Added extra aerial presence at the back in the final moments.

Sam is a football journalist focusing on English football at all levels and Spanish football. He also writes for Spain's biggest daily sports newspaper, MARCA, as well as The Boot Room. Find Sam on Twitter at @samleveridge.

English Premier League

Rhian Brewster deserves shot at Liverpool first-team next season

The Liverpool teenager deserves a shot ahead of Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi.

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Liverpool fans were rightly excited about England under-17s World Cup win in India last summer. Firstly, it was great to see the English national team doing well at some level. Secondly, one of their own players, Rhian Brewster, was on fire.

The teenage striker won the Golden Boot prize at the competition after scoring eight goals for his nation, including hat-tricks against both the USA and Brazil.

His performances rightly had Liverpool fans excited for the season ahead, but it came too soon for the youngster. Brewster then suffered an ankle injury in January that needed surgery.

(Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

However, despite his setback, it was reported last month by The Telegraph that Brewster will be promoted to the Liverpool first-team next season after his recovery period is over.

Rightly so. Liverpool should be ready to give the teenager his chance in the first-team at Anfield, as he has all the talent available to him to become a club goalscoring sensation.

In fact, if Liverpool want to be serious about him, they should ensure there are no blockages in his pathway.

The likes of Daniel Sturridge, currently on loan at West Brom, and Divock Origi, also on loan but at German side Wolfsburg, should no longer be considered ahead of Brewster in the pecking order.

Getting rid of the injury-prone Sturridge and Origi, who has struggled in the Bundesliga, will leave Brewster firmly in the mix for the striking position at Liverpool.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Roberto Firmino obviously remains the first choice. But Liverpool also have England’s under-20 goalscoring sensation from the summer in Dominic Solanke. With the hard-working Danny Ings also present, Brewster fits in nicely to the Liverpool striking fold.

Some might say he is too young. But people said that about Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler. The fact is, nobody will know until he is thrown into that position.

Liverpool fans are some of the more supportive and understanding in the country when it comes to young talent, and would have all the patience in the world for the young striker.

It is time to cut the deadwood and make room for the future to blossom.

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Bolton Wanderers

Trent Alexander-Arnold World Cup push is deja-vu for Jon Flanagan and Liverpool

The Liverpool defender has had his problems on and off the pitch but is performing well at Bolton Wanderers.

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Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has emerged as a late challenger for the England World Cup squad this summer. The teenage defender has been in incredible form for Liverpool in 2018.

His performances against Manchester City in both legs of the recent Champions League win earned mass praise and plenty of Liverpool fans are of the belief that Alexander-Arnold should be in the England squad.

It seems a bit like deja-vu from four years ago. Back then, England were again preparing for a World Cup – this time in Brazil. Once again, Liverpool were in fine form toward the end of that season and narrowly missed out on the Premier League title to Manchester City.

One of the main reasons for their excellent season was the form of young full-back Jon Flanagan. The then 21-year-old defender came in and solved Brendan Rodgers’ left-back problem with aplomb.

He featured in 25 games that season and pushed his way, much like Alexander-Arnold, into England contention.

(Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

In the summer, he was named on the England standby list for the World cup and made his debut in a warm-up game against Ecuador. This should have been the start of something brilliant for the young man.

But the four years since have been a disappointment for the Liverpool man.

That summer a build-up of fluid on his knee led to investigations which in turn led to corrective surgery. Flanagan went on to spend what should have been his crowning years on the treatment table. After spending 18 months on the sidelines he eventually returned, but to a new Liverpool.

Under Jurgen Klopp, first-team football was hard to find. He headed to Burnley on loan last season but found himself not able to break into the first-team at Turf Moor either.

Since that near World Cup miss, football has continuously kicked Flanagan while he has been down and he has also had well-documented problems off the pitch as well.

But there is now a glimmer of hope. In January the defender headed to Bolton Wanderers on loan, to try and help the Trotters fight off relegation to League One and put his recent problems behind him.

Now established as a first-team regular he is getting back to fine form.

Whilst it may come too late to salvage his Liverpool career, there does appear to be a future for Flanagan in the game.

A lot of bad luck has hit the defender so far, whilst his off-field issues have also not helped matters. But, hopefully, he can turn things around and build a career Liverpool fans thought he might back in 2014.

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Liverpool

Liverpool identify Sevilla defender Clement Lenglet as Virgil Van Dijk’s perfect partner

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Photo: Getty Images.

After signing Virgil Van Dijk in January to begin a rebuilding project in defence, Liverpool could now look to Seville for the next addition and a long-term partner for the Dutchman, with that man being Clement Lenglet.

According to Spanish newspaper SPORT, Liverpool have entered the race to sign the Frenchman alongside Barcelona as interest in the youngster hots up.

The reports indicate that the defender has a release clause set as low as €30 million (£26.1 million) and as such would be a bargain addition in the summer, particularly given the price tag that other players of a similar quality would demand.

(Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

In his first full season in Spain, Lenglet has established a reputation as one of La Liga’s finest defenders, immediately becoming one of the first names on the Sevilla team-sheet under the management of both Eduardo Berizzo and Vincenzo Montella.

At 22-years-old, Lenglet has huge potential and already has four seasons of experience at first team level in France with Nancy and now in the south of Spain.

Good on the ball and strong in the tackle, he is exactly the mould of defender that Jurgen Klopp has looked for previously by signing the likes of Van Dijk and Joel Matip.

Whether a deal is realistic may be another matter given Barcelona’s interest, but it would certainly be one worth pursuing for Liverpool if they do have hopes of mounting a title challenge in the Premier League next season.

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