‘He’s been the best player when he plays there’: Rio Ferdinand revels in Fabinho’s sublime display in the heart of Liverpool’s defence as Brazilian fills void left by Virgil van Dijk with ease in Champions League win over Ajax
- Fabinho played centre back for Liverpool in the absence of Virgil van Dijk
- The Brazilian saved a certain Ajax goal with a superb clearance in the Reds’ win
- Rio Ferdinand was complimentary of his performance and defensive qualities
- But he insisted he must now strike up a consistent partnership with Joe Gomez
Fabinho – naturally a deep-lying midfielder – stepped in for expected long-term absentee Virgil van Dijk and saved a certain goal with a stunning piece of defending to ensure Liverpool’s lead in Amsterdam – gained through a Nicolas Tagliafico own goal – was preserved.
Van Dijk could yet miss the rest of the season after suffering anterior cruciate ligament injury, and former United defender Ferdinand insisted Fabinho must form a solid partnership with Joe Gomez if Liverpool are to cope without their star defender.
Rio Ferdinand has heaped praise on Fabinho (left) for his defending in Liverpool’s win at Ajax
The Brazilian made a spectacular clearance as the Reds claimed a key victory in Amsterdam
‘He’s been the best player when he plays there,’ Ferdinand told BT Sport.
‘This guy is a top operator and he played right back at Monaco as well so he knows how to defend.
‘But he’ll be judged on it now because he’ll have a chance to play there for a sustained period. He has read the game really well today. It’s about him starting to establish a relationship with Joe Gomez.
‘The problem he has got is he is filling the boots of the best defender in the world and Gomez as well, there will be pressure on both of them and if they can do it.
And Ferdinand admitted he was impressed with the natural deep-lying midfielder’s display
Ferdinand however insisted he must strike up a solid partnership with Joe Gomez in defence
‘After the week they’ve had with injuries, it was just what the doctor ordered. Three points and a clean sheet, Klopp will be going back a happy man.’
Liverpool have had four clean sheets in the five games that Fabinho has played as a centre back for the Premier League champions.
Fabinho’s team-mate James Milner was also complimentary of the Brazilian’s versatility and paid tribute to his spectacular clearance off the line.
Ajax almost equalised just minutes before the interval when Dusan Tadic was sent clear through and looped a finish over Adrian, but fortunately for Liverpool, Fabinho’s defensive instincts had kicked in and he got back to spectacularly clear the ball just in the nick of time.
‘He’s (Fabinho) a top player and top players can adapt,’ veteran Milner said.
Liverpool could yet be without star defender Virgil van Dijk for the rest of the current season
‘He’s played there before and done well and it was a fabulous clearance as well.
‘It’s a big clean sheet, especially with the changes we made. It was almost like an old-fashioned England game, at times we couldn’t find that final pass on the counter attack but in the end the own goal was enough for us.’
Jamie Carragher – who earlier this week criticised the club for their defensive recruitment – was also glowing in his praise of the defence, tweeting: ‘Huge win for @LFC in Amsterdam, back 4 excellent especially Fabinho & the three attacking subs very good also!’
Liverpool did win the game thanks to a Tagliafico own goal, with the left back diverting Sadio Mane’s shot into his own net.
James Milner was also full of praise for Fabinho and in particular his spectacular clearance