Emre Can, Liverpool produce second-half magic to beat Maribor

Liverpool did the job on Wednesday night without the flamboyance of the previous victory over their Slovenian opponents. They remain firmly in charge of their own destiny in Group E following a 3-0 win at Anfield, and that's everything they would have wanted by the final whistle.


Persistence paid off when it might have become easier to panic. Without ever really hitting their stride and with important players missing, the hosts scored another three goals and could easily have had more.


Another tepid first half against a blanket defence shouldn't worry anyone unduly as long as the goals come eventually. A lack of dynamism in the opening stages of this and the Huddersfield victory could prove costly against more ambitious opposition who can punish them at the other end.

Manager rating out of 10

7 -- Jurgen Klopp selected the only team he could, saw what Maribor presented in the first half and clearly energised his men with the half-time team talk.

Player ratings: (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Loris Karius, 6 -- One good save in the second half was the sum total of his workload. Stayed alert and possibly deserves credit for staying awake.

DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 7 -- Had a lacklustre first half like everyone else but stepped it up after the interval with a superb cross to create the all-important opener. After that, he was far more effective on a night when defensive duties were almost nonexistent.

DF Joel Matip, 5 -- Contributed to the same ineffectual sideways passing that afflicted Liverpool in their previous game. Even in such a one-sided match, he managed to cause one or two alarms by being easily shrugged off the ball and easily bypassed for Maribor's two moments of danger.

DF Ragnar Klavan, 6 -- A little more solid than his partner, he spent large parts of the game halfway inside the opposition half. Whenever called upon defensively, Klavan stayed strong, but the odd moment where he switched off might prove costly on another occasion.

DF Alberto Moreno, 6 -- The flying full-back/winger spent the first half holding back and playing far too many safe passes sideways or backward. Much more like his usual self after the break once the Reds were in control and more confident, he provided a fine cross for Liverpool's third.

MF James Milner, 7 -- Not quite as effective as in Slovenia, he at least looked energised and interested in the first half. On the end of one or two fouls, possibly a response to his own aggression in Slovenia, but he did not back down once. Had the chance to settle nerves with a penalty but was thwarted by a fine save. He made amends with excellent combination play that led to the killer second goal.

MF Emre Can, 7 -- Scored a very fine goal that more than made up for an occasionally sluggish and static performance. He was far stronger in the second half, but that applies to almost everybody.

MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 5 -- An early injury hampered his usual energetic style, though he fought on for a few minutes before finally admitting defeat.

FW Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 6 -- A chance to prove his worth from the start wasn't taken initially, as he looked out of place on the left. Revitalised by the general improvement in the Reds' fortunes in the second half, he performed well for a while before tiredness naturally crept in.

FW Mohammed Salah, 7 -- Scored the vital breakthrough goal that eased any nerves in the home crowd, he also was nowhere near his best early on. Less alert in the box than usual, he still got his customary goal but should have added to it. He instead headed over but was still the main threat all night.

FW Roberto Firmino, 7 -- Showed some wonderful skill to produce the penalty, Firmino boasted a lot of good touches and industry without ever really looking like he'd score himself. His heading was particularly poor, which is unusual for someone scoring more than his share in the air of late.


MF Jordan Henderson, 7 -- Brought on far earlier than planned because of Wijnaldum's injury, he helped instigate a much-needed brisker tempo and a stronger press that pinned Maribor deep in their own half for much of the game.

FW Daniel Sturridge, 6 -- Came on when the game had been clinched and was barely noticeable until he scored late on with a typically opportunistic effort.

MF Marko Grujic, NR -- Late substitution for Firmino and made no telling contribution.