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Liverpool: Reds star who won 100% duels was better than Gravenberch

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The Reds will be emboldened by this man’s first-class performance in Europe last night.

Liverpool have produced a score of sensational displays under the European lights; against Union Saint-Gilloise, this was not one such performance, though Jurgen Klopp’s side secured a second successive win nonetheless.

The Reds have now made it two wins from two in the Europa League group phase and Klopp will be pleased with the clean sheet and control for the lion’s share of the match – though USG weren’t without their opportunities.

The Athletic’s James Pearce said that “they made hard work of this and rode their luck at times”, but ultimately, a much-changed starting line-up got the Anfield side back to winning ways ahead of a crucial Premier League match against Brighton & Hove Albion at the weekend.

How did Ryan Gravenberch play vs Union Saint-Gilloise?

While Liverpool failed to produce the kind of slick, incisive display of attacking intent and ball-playing fluidity that has been deep-rooted into the squad since Klopp’s managerial arrival in 2015, he will be pleased that danger was rebuffed and his outfit is firmly in the group stage driving seat.

They say that winning when you aren’t playing well is a good sign, but one man who undoubtedly shone at the very core of the match was £34m summer signing Ryan Gravenberch, who capitalised on a goalkeeping howler to tap in for his first Liverpool goal before the break.

The Dutchman, aged 21, recorded a match score of 8.0 – as per Sofascore – complementing his goal with 67 touches, an 80% pass success rate, two key passes, three shots on target and two tackles, very much demonstrating his worth as an all-encompassing central star.

Against LASK two weeks ago, the Reds were maladroit in possession in the first half, and while this wasn’t the case on Merseyside, there will be improvements needed still, though with Gravenberch growing into his skin with each passing game, Klopp will be emboldened by his destructive new midfield weapon.

The former Bayern Munich midfielder’s performance was impressive, but it was the return of Trent Alexander-Arnold to the starting line-up that was most galvanising for the hosts, with the club vice-captain dazzling and reminding the world of his qualities with a dynamic display.

How did Trent Alexander-Arnold perform vs Union Saint-Gilloise?

The England international was substituted just after the hour mark as he continues to build his fitness levels after sitting much of September on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, but was heralded for his “excellent” showing by Pearce last night, with the journalist also praising him as a “class act”.

While known for his creativity and devastating attacking instruments, the 24-year-old exhibited his growing maturity and discipline with a composed defensive performance.

Liverpool

Recording an impressive 7.7 match rating, Alexander-Arnold completed 88% of his passes and took 90 touches, and while he succeeded with his one attempted dribble and took two shots – one of which a ferocious drive that resulted in Anthony Moris spilling and allowing Gravenberch to capitalise – he shone with his work in the defensive third.

Indeed, the £180k-per-week machine made two interceptions and three tackles – one of which as the last man – but most impressively, he won all five of his contested duels on the night, and while there will be tougher matches on the horizon, it is refreshing to see him blossom with his skills at the back.

Now set to star once again down the right channel, this first-class phenom will play a major role as the season stretches on, and against USG he gave a glimpse of what is to come.

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