Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football European

Ox at the double as he provides spark for dominant Pool

Genk 1 Liverpool 4

On target: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain finds the net
On target: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain finds the net

By Carl Markham

Liverpool midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain announced his return to the Champions League after an 18-month absence with two goals in a 4-1 win in Genk.

The England international missed all but 20 minutes of last season with a serious knee injury sustained in the semi-final win over Roma in this competition in April 2018.

He made up for lost time by producing exactly the sort of performance manager Jurgen Klopp expects from him, driving forward from midfield and - more importantly - scoring.

His first was good, firing home from just outside the penalty area, but his second was sublime, flicking a first-time shot in off the crossbar.

Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah also scored - substitute Stephen Odey grabbed a late consolation for the hosts - as Liverpool recorded their first away win in the group stage in five matches and only their second in 10.

The breakthrough came early on when Fabinho slipped a sideways pass to Oxlade-Chamberlain who, under little pressure, coolly slotted a low, diagonal 20-yard shot inside the far post.

Liverpool tightened things up in the second-half but Salah endured a frustrating time until his clever reverse-pass allowed Mane to clip the third over goalkeeper Gaetan Coucke.

That seemed to enliven the Egypt international and he brilliantly turned two tight markers in the area to add the fourth.

But there was only one thing being talked about at the final whistle and that was the resurrection of Oxlade-Chamberlain after his serious knee injury.

He tends not to score ordinary goals and his nonchalant outside-of-the-right-foot effort which cannoned in off the crossbar earlier in the half to make it 2-0 was instinctively brilliant and technically perfect.

Odey ruined what would have been a perfect performance to give Genk the goal their first-half endeavours had threatened.

• Liverpool have condemned an "offensive and inappropriate" banner which was hung in the away end before the Champions League match in Genk.

The banner, featuring a photoshopped picture of striker Divock Origi, was taken down as soon as the club were made aware of its existence.

"We sought to have it removed as soon as we became aware," said a spokesman.

"The banner is highly offensive and inappropriate. We condemn its use and we will look to identify those responsible for bringing it into the stadium."

A statement from Liverpool read: "Liverpool Football Club condemns the offensive banner displayed in our section of the ground, prior to kick-off.

"To be clear, the image used perpetuated a racist stereotype. This is completely unacceptable."

GENK: Coucke, Maehle, Cuesta, Lucumi, Uronen, Bongonda (Ndongala, 66 mins), Heynen, Berge, Ito (Hagi, 87 mins), Samatta, Onuachu (Odey, 81 mins). Unused subs: De Norre, Dewaest, Hrosovsky, Vandevoordt.

LIVERPOOL: Alisson, Milner, Lovren, van Dijk, Robertson (Gomez, 63 mins), Keita, Fabinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Wijnaldum, 73 mins), Salah, Firmino (Origi, 80 mins), Mane. Unused subs: , Adrian, Henderson, Lallana, Brewster.

Referee: Slavko Vincic (Slovenia)

Man of the match: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Match rating: 8/10

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph