Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp heaped praises on his players after they managed a tough 1-0 win against Ajax in their opening match of UEFA Champions League 2020-21 on Wednesday.
Liverpool, who are likely to be without Van Dijk for the rest of the season after the influential Dutch centre-back suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage against Everton last weekend, showed that they are able enough to adjust without the defender.
Brazilian midfielder Fabinho filled in impressively alongside Joe Gomez at the heart of the defence.
While Liverpool weren’t at their best and rode their luck at times, never more so than when Nicolas Tagliafico diverted Sadio Mane’s scuffed effort into his own net in the first half, it was an encouraging Group D opener for Klopp.
In another match of the day, defending champions Bayern Munich began from where they had left off in the last season. The Bavarians thrashed four goals past Spanish giants Atletico Madrid at the empty Allianz Arena.
Kingsley Coman, whose header settled last season’s Champions League final against Paris Saint-Germain just 59 days ago in Lisbon, scored Bayern’s opening goal, created their second and claimed their fourth behind closed doors at the Allianz Arena.
Coman saved his best for last with a superb effort, turning the Atletico defence inside out before firing home on 72 minutes.
Atletico’s city rivals, Real Madrid, were also off to a losing start. Unlike their rivals, Real Madrid’s 2-3 defeat against Shakhtar Donetsk, their second consecutive defeat ahead of the Clasico against Barcelona on Saturday, came as a shocker.
Ukrainian champions Shakhtar were without 10 first-team players and nine members of staff due to coronavirus infections but recorded a remarkable win at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium, after scoring three times in 13 first-half minutes.
Strikes from Tete and Manor Solomon, either side of a Raphael Varane own-goal, gave Shakhtar a shock lead at the interval and while Luka Modric and Vinicius Junior pulled goals back, Madrid fell short.
Manchester City, meanwhile, began their campaign with a comfortable victory over Porto. The English side registered a comprehensive 3-1 win over their Portuguese counterparts at the Etihad Stadium.
Inter Milan played a 2-2 draw against Monchengladbach.
With inputs from AFP (accessed via PTI)