Fabinho and Joe Gomez prove that there is a life for Liverpool after Virgil van Dijk.


But less than 90 seconds after the Champions League group opening game at Ajax, the Liverpool defender was attacked by Adrian in his attempt to get the ball back to his goalkeeper and almost cleaned out by the Spaniard.

Joe Gomez had enough to do without fear of being attacked by his own teammates.

Liverpool won 1-0 at Ajax, and it was the Reds’ rearguard that stood out with an indestructible victory for Jurgen Klopp’s men.

As Alisson Becker was also missing, Liverpool had been deprived of what was probably the best goalkeeper in the world and certainly the best defender.

It was, however, an unfortunate reaction to the absence of Virgil van Dijk, the talismatic Dutchman whose season had been decimated by Everton’s goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s serious knee injury.

And it was a good thing, because Gomez was the only remaining fit senior Reds defender.

And when Adrian saw a defender storm to the ground and bounce out of the game shortly thereafter, the uncertainty in the Reds’ rearguard became apparent.

Every team would suffer from it.

The Brazilian, who represented the absent Joel Matip, performed brilliantly as the senior national squad member in the back, with Gomez taking the lead from his colleague.

Gradually and encouragingly, however, Liverpool began to establish themselves in the defence and Fabinho underlined why Jurgen Klopp had so much confidence in him as fourth-choice central defender.

Adrian had to parry a good Quincy Promes parry from close range, while Fabinho crowned the Reds’ determination with an incredible hook throw from Dusan Tadic off the line.

An unexpected role reversal for the 35th different central defender partnership under Klopp, but it worked. And the duo’s growing self-confidence ran through the entire team as Liverpool had only a second clean sheet in their last 13 Champions League away games.

Sure, it was a stroke of luck when Davy Klaassen’s shot hit the inside of the post just after the break and flew away.

Liverpool have had enough bad luck in recent days to justify a shot or two on the green.

Just like when Nicolas Tagliafico inexplicably hit Sadio Mane’s miss on 35 minutes to score the only goal into his own net.

As Klopp always claimed, there is a life after Van Dijk. Liverpool is once again in the Champions League.

But with Fabinho and Gomez, who showed a stoic defensive performance, this victory – and a big one at that – was well deserved.


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