Liverpool edge past Genk but keep powder dry for Man City
Champions League, Anfield. Liverpool 2 (Wijnaldum 14', Oxlade-Chamberlain 53') Genk 1 (Samata 41')
Liverpool took a step towards the Champions League last 16 with a narrow 2-1 victory over Genk at Anfield.
Georginio Wijnaldum opened the scoring with an instinctive close-range finish on 14 minutes before Mbwana Samatta stunned the Kop with a bullet header just prior to the interval.
Oxlade-Chamberlain Getty Images
The result means the Merseysiders move to the top of Group E, a point clear of Napoli who could only draw 1-1 at home to third-placed Salzburg. Klopp and Co can secure qualification to the last 16 with a game to spare if they beat the Italians in L4 on November 27.
Liverpool will now turn their focus to Sunday's top-of-the-table Premier League clash with champions Manchester City.
Liverpool on course in Europe as Manchester City test looms. It's three years to the day since Klopp oversaw his first European win as Liverpool boss at Rubin Kazan and it's fair to say he's restored the club's reputation as one of the continent's giants. Three UEFA finals and one Champions League title suggests his side is built for these type of occasions, and while this victory will not linger long in the memory, it moves them to within touching distance of qualification for another knockout stage. The Reds still face tricky encounters at home to Napoli and away to Salzburg, but are very much expected to come through, with no-one wanting to face the Merseysiders in a two-legged tie that involves the Anfield factor.
Liverpool's Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum (L) celebrates scoring with Liverpool's Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk during the UEFA Champions League group E football match between Liverpool and RC Genk at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on NoGetty Images
In many ways this was a perfect fixture for Klopp and Co to strengthen their Group E position while also warming up for the weekend. Six changes from the win over Aston Villa suggested the Reds had one eye on the top-two Premier League clash with Manchester City on Sunday, and Genk never truly looked like inflicting a first defeat in 24 UEFA home games. Klopp got to give some of his stars a rest while offering playing time to those pushing to feature more prominently. Some impressed more than others, but it was job done ahead of a huge contest in five days' time. Klopp has got Liverpool motoring in Europe, but the next step is that elusive Premier League title. It's early days but the showdown with Pep Guardiola's champions could be massively significant in this season's race. The attack continues to purr but no clean sheet in eight outings is cause for concern. Roll on Sunday.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool). Once again demonstrated the attacking dimension he can add to Liverpool's workman-like midfield. The 26-year-old looks to be recapturing the form he was showing prior to his long-term injury and was the one fringe player to really make his mark.
LIVERPOOL: Alisson 6, Alexander-Arnold 7, Gomez 6, Van Dijk 6, Milner 7, Fabinho 7, Wijnaldum 7, Keita 6, Oxlade-Chamberlain 8, Salah 6, Origi 6. Subs: Robertson 6, Mane 6, Firmino n/a.
GENK: Coucke 7, Cuesta 6, Dewaest 7, Lucumi 7, Maehle 7, Heynen 7, Berge 7, Hrosovsky 6, De Norre 6, Ito 6, Samatta 7. Subs: Ndongala 6, Onuachu n/a, Bongonda n/a.
14' - GOAL! Liverpool 1-0 Genk. Wijnaldum hooks a clever finish into the roof of the net from close-range after Genk had failed to deal with Milner's driven cross from the left.
Naby Keita vs. Joakim Maehle - KRC Genk vs. FC LiverpoolGetty Images
24' - LIVERPOOL CHANCE. Keita pulls the trigger from the left side of the box but sees his shot blocked by Coucke.
40' - GOAL! Liverpool 1-1 Genk. Mbwana Samatta catches Liverpool cold with a bullet near post header from a wicked left-wing corner.
53' - GOAL! Liverpool 2-1 Genk. Oxlade-Chamberlain restores the home side's lead with a smart turn and finish after clever play from Salah.
82' - GENK CHANCE. Bryan Heynen is left in acres on the left of the area and forces a smart save out of Alisson. Liverpool looking shaky at times in defence.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has scored four goals in his last four games for Liverpool; as many as in his previous 45 appearances for the club.