Liverpool earn one-goal lead against Hoffenheim
Liverpool have beaten Hoffenheim 2-1 in the first leg of the Champions League playoff round.
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick gave Liverpool the lead before Havard Nordtveit’s own goal. Mark Uth pulled a goal back for Hoffenheim in the 87th minute.
Hoffenheim started the match strongly and Andrej Kramaric caused problems for the Liverpool defence. His cross was aimed at Serge Gnabry but Joel Matip cleared.
Dejan Lovren, who had a poor game against Watford on Saturday, gave away a penalty in the 10th minute when he tripped Gnabry but Kramaric’s spot-kick was aimed straight down the middle for Simon Mignolet to parry away.
Liverpool could have been ahead three minutes later when Mohamed Salah took the ball from Kevin Vogt. The Egyptian had almost half of the pitch and no defender ahead of him but ended up firing wide when one-on-one.
Alexander-Arnold gave Liverpool the lead in style after 36 minutes. The 18-year-old’s 25-yard free-kick looped over the wall and nestled into the far corner.
Gnabry nearly equalised on the verge of half time, beating Matip to a cross, but his shot was blocked by Mignolet. Sandro Wagner sent the ball wide on the follow-up.
Lovren then had a chance to give Liverpool a two-goal lead but headed wide of the far post.
Liverpool kept pushing for a second after the restart too, and Roberto Firmino’s shot was saved by Oliver Baumann.
Gnabry thought he had equalised in the 50th minute though but the assistant referee’s flag was up. A corner then fell to Lovren at the other end but Baumann kept the ball out.
Liverpool’s lead was doubled with 15 minutes remaining. Firmino played a quick free-kick to James Milner whose cross was headed into his own net by former West Ham United defender Nordtveit.
Hoffenheim pulled a goal back in the 87th minute when Uth finished off a counterattack.