Liverpool secured a first-leg lead over Hoffenheim in the Champions League play-off.

Jürgen Klopp stuck with the same line-up as the one that failed to secure three points against Watford on Saturday in the first-leg play-off at Hoffenheim.

The first half

It was just six minutes into the game when Joel Matip had to produce an excellent defensive header to deny Serge Gnabry the chance to put Hoffenheim in front after the ball was crossed dangerously into the centre of the box by Andrej Kramaric.

At 11 minutes, Hoffenheim were awarded a penalty after Dejan Lovren brought down Gnabry in the box. Kramaric stepped up to the spot but Mignolet repelled the shot.

It was a fast-paced game and the Reds had their first clear chance when Salah was sent through from a Roberto Firmino pass, however the Egyptian shot wide of the post after pressure from the defenders.

It wasn’t long after that the Reds took the lead in brilliant fashion. A foul on Sadio Mané gave Trent Alexander-Arnold the opportunity to score and the European debutant took it beautifully. He took control and curled the ball around the wall and found the bottom corner of the net. What a way to mark his 14th senior appearance at 18 years of age.

Hoffenheim continued to threaten to level before the interval but Mignolet was on-form and blocked a shot from Gnabry before Sandro Wagner shot the rebound just wide.

The second half

Liverpool were so close to doubling their lead just 90 seconds into the second half but Oliver Baumann kept out the close-range swipe from Firmino.

The Hoffenheim goalkeeper did well to repel a low drive from Mané as he continued to trouble the side with his pace. 

As the game progressed, the German side continued to exert pressure on the visitors to get themselves back in the game but the Reds responded with a goal from the vice-captain who came on to replace Jordan Henderson.

James Milner found space on the left of the area before a brilliant shot deflected off Havard Nordtveit and flew into the top corner to put the Reds further ahead.

Mignolet did well to keep out a shot from Mark Uth, while at the other end Mané tried to set up Mo Salah to increase the lead.

With just three minutes remaining (plus added time), Uth found the net to give Hoffenheim some hope but it wasn’t enough as the Reds bagged two away goals and are set up nicely with an advantage for the second-leg at Anfield next Wednesday.

A decent game and it will give the side hope ahead of Saturday’s game at Anfield against Crystal Palace. Up the Reds!! Let me know your thoughts below or tweet me.

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