Premier League champions Liverpool were helped by an own goal from Nicolas Tagliafico to get off to a winning start in the Champions League against Ajax.
Jurgen Klopp’s injury-hit side, who were without talisman Virgil van Dijk, were tested by Ajax but did enough to leave Amsterdam with a clean sheet.
Tagliafico sliced Sadio Mane’s cross into his own net with 10 minutes of the first half remaining, moments after Liverpool keeper Adrian denied Quincy Promes from close range.
Liverpool’s Fabinho then acrobatically cleared Dusan Tadic’s lob off the line, before Davy Klaassen’s powerful effort bounced off the inside of the post in the second half.
The Reds, who also face Atalanta and Midtjylland in Group D, were returning to Europe as English champions for the first time since 1984-85.
Van Dijk’s presence missed but not costly
All eyes were on Liverpool’s defence in the absence of Van Dijk and the injured Joel Matip.
Brazilian midfielder Fabinho, who started at centre-back in the victory over Chelsea last month, lined up alongside Joe Gomez in defence, while Adrian continued to deputise for number one keeper Alisson.
There were nerves early-on – Gomez and Adrian had a mix-up which resulted in the keeper clearing it against the England international inside their own area within three minutes.
And Ajax looked to exploit any weakness out of possession by dropping deep, encouraging Liverpool’s defence to have the ball and forcing them to use Adrian as a passback option.
They had some success in the first half, as Liverpool rode periods of pressure – Fabinho had to produce a smart tackle to block Tadic, while Tagliafico almost escaped from Gomez before Adrian pushed him wide in the box.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp reacted frantically on the touchline, waving his arms and shouting at his players as he demanded more urgency and communication.
But as the game wore on, Liverpool looked more comfortable out of possession, with midfielder James Milner dropping deep to provide added support.
Adrian’s smart save from Promes and Fabinho’s goalline heroics ultimately proved crucial and Klopp will no doubt be delighted with a clean sheet and a win in their first group game of what has been a frustrating week for his squad.
More to follow.
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- 3SchuursSubstituted forTraoréat 84′minutes
- 6KlaassenSubstituted forEkkelenkampat 74′minutes
- 17BlindSubstituted forHuntelaarat 83′minutes
- 7Neres CamposSubstituted forLabyadat 74′minutes
- 20KudusSubstituted forPromesat 9′minutesBooked at 90mins
- 66Alexander-ArnoldBooked at 80mins
- 7MilnerBooked at 38minsSubstituted forR Williamsat 90+2′minutes
- 17JonesSubstituted forHendersonat 45′minutes
- 11SalahSubstituted forShaqiriat 60′minutes
- 9FirminoSubstituted forJotaat 60′minutes
- 10ManéSubstituted forMinaminoat 60′minutes
- 46R Williams
- 76N Williams
Match ends, Ajax 0, Liverpool 1.
Second Half ends, Ajax 0, Liverpool 1.
Attempt missed. Jurgen Ekkelenkamp (Ajax) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.
Attempt blocked. Xherdan Shaqiri (Liverpool) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Takumi Minamino.
Quincy Promes (Ajax) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Quincy Promes (Ajax).
Substitution, Liverpool. Rhys Williams replaces James Milner.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by André Onana.
Attempt saved. Takumi Minamino (Liverpool) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Xherdan Shaqiri.
Attempt saved. Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Diogo Jota.
James Milner (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Lassina Traoré (Ajax).
Attempt saved. Lassina Traoré (Ajax) with an attempt from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Klaas Jan Huntelaar with a headed pass.
Attempt blocked. Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Attempt blocked. Diogo Jota (Liverpool) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.
Foul by Xherdan Shaqiri (Liverpool).
Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Substitution, Ajax. Lassina Traoré replaces Perr Schuurs.
Substitution, Ajax. Klaas Jan Huntelaar replaces Daley Blind.