Liverpool were beaten by Union Saint-Gilloise in the Europa League on Thursday night but still progress to the competition’s last 16 as group winners after securing their place before kick-off.
Mohamed Amoura and Cameron Puertas scored the vital goals for Union, whose season will continue in the Europa Conference League after beating LASK to third place in the final standings.
Jarell Quansah had equalised for Liverpool in between but it was a lacklustre night overall for the Reds and Union arguably deserved to win by a few more.
How the game unfolded
The contest was not an entertaining watch from a Liverpool perspective. The Reds enjoyed the lion’s share of possession from the early stages but it was perhaps telling that Jurgen Klopp’s heavily rotated side had nothing to play for and Union were fighting to stay in Europe.
While Liverpool couldn’t even muster a shot for most of the first half, Union were giving it plenty in a bid to get ahead, although most weren’t bothering Caoimhin Kelleher. The opener from Amoura came just over half an hour in when the forward finished a counter move from a few yards out.
Liverpool’s first attempt of the night, either off or on target, produced their equaliser in the closing stages of the first half when Quansah netted from Curtis Jones’ corner. Yet parity didn’t even last until the break because Puertas had fired Union back ahead from the edge of the box.
Union, playing host at Anderlecht’s stadium rather than their own home due to UEFA regulations, were buoyed by the taking the fight to Liverpool, who just couldn’t create. Union even thought they had a third when Quansah’s poor header gifted the Belgian’s the ball, which ended up in the net when Puertas drilled past the helpless Kelleher. VAR spotted a handball in the build-up.
That briefly looked like the moment for Liverpool to spark into life, particularly as Klopp used the pause for the VAR check to put Darwin Nunez into the game. But Union continued to have chances, with Kelleher called into action a couple of times and Amoura creating a glorious opportunity for Gustaf Nilsson to put the game to bed that the Swedish striker somehow missed.
Union still looked most likely to get the next goal as the game reached the closing stages and Kelleher again clawed the ball away from substitute Dennis Eckert. Shortly before then, Ryan Gravenberch had forced Anthony Moris into a first save of the night with only Liverpool’s second shot. One more Moris stop in the 95th minute sealed the famous Union win.
GK: Caoimhin Kelleher – 7/10 – Would have started this one even if Alisson was available. Made a few saves in the second half that actually kept the score down.
RB: Conor Bradley – 5/10 – Tried to get forward and progress the ball but lost it a little too easily.
CB: Ibrahima Konate – 5/10 – Only played 45 minutes.
CB: Jarell Quansah – 6/10 – Scored Liverpool’s equaliser at a corner but also culpable in the Reds falling behind a second time after a poor header.
LB: Luke Chambers – 4/10 – A really tough night for the 19-year-old.
CM: Harvey Elliott – 6/10 – Looked like he was trying to make things happen, it just wasn’t.
CM: Wataru Endo – 6/10 – Passed accurately but went off at half-time in favouring of a more dynamic presence in the middle.
CM: Curtis Jones – 6/10 – Controlled the ball in the middle but things broke down further forward. Still set up Quansah’s equaliser with delivery from a corner.
RW: Kaide Gordon – 5/10 – Just 24 touches of the ball in 75 minutes. Important experience.
ST: Cody Gakpo – 5/10 – Hardly in the game at all due to his team’s lack of creativity.
LW: Ben Doak – 5/10 – Offered promise with a couple of dribbles but ultimately didn’t do enough to make the most of this opportunity.
SUB: Joe Gomez (46′ for Konate) – 5/10
SUB: Ryan Gravenberch (46′ for Endo) – 6/10
SUB: Darwin Nunez (63′ for Doak) – 6/10
SUB: Callum Scanlon (63′ for Chambers) – 5/10
SUB: James McConnell (75′ for Gordon) – 6/10
Subs not used: Marcelo (GK), Mrozek (GK), Tsimikas, Koumas, Szoboszlai, Hill, Diaz
Jurgen Klopp – 5/10 – Saw the opportunity to give young players some first-team minutes in a game that didn’t really matter. But turned to his bench relatively early when things weren’t going right.
Player of the match – Mohamed Amoura (Union Saint-Gilloise)
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