Liverpool went into their Champions League qualifier knowing that they would be facing a side unbeaten at home since May 2016, but they broke that record and ended Hoffenheim’s unbeaten run in style.
With two crucial away goals, teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold opened the scoring with a brilliant free-kick from distance. James Milner added a second with a cross deflected off former West Ham man Haavard Nordtveit.
Both goals came after Simon Mignolet made a smart penalty save from Andrej Kramaric, but the Germans did get through eventually as Mark Uth’s late rifled shot gave the Champions League debutants a faint hope of a comeback at Anfield.
Here is what The Boot Room has learnt from the tie…
Trent Alexander-Arnold is the real deal
Stepping in to Nathaniel Clyne’s boots with the first choice missing the start of the season through injury, the teenager has proven himself to be a capable deputy. His first half display was one of real quality making him stand out from every other player on the field, despite it being his European debut.
The highlight was his 25 yard free-kick which looped over the wall and into the bottom corner of the net. For an 18-year-old to take a free-kick from that range in Europe away from home is a brave move, and he certainly produced the goods to justify his decision.
Jordan Henderson isn’t the solution
Deployed in the holding midfield role, the Reds’ captain once again looked unconvincing. Henderson appeared reluctant and nervous, perhaps because of his poor luck with injuries of late, but he did not seem comfortable in a deeper role where every sloppy mistake in possession proved costly.
James Milner replaced him early in the second half and had a far greater impact, with Emre Can looking far more at home in a holding midfield role. Henderson may wear the captains’ armband but he cannot assume that it is enough to protect his place in the starting line-up.
Liverpool are clear favourites to progress
With two away goals compared to Hoffenheim’s late goal, the Germans will need to score at least twice without reply in order to beat the Reds at Anfield. That is a big ask given that Liverpoool could really have been out of sight by the time that the full time whistle blew in Germany.
Liverpool will be cursing themselves for failing to keep a clean sheet or add another goal to their tally, given that they had the opportunities to do both, but will be confident ahead of the second leg next Wednesday.