Liverpool’s return to the Champions League yielded only a point as they opened the group stage with a 2-2 tie with Sevilla.
Wissam Ben Yedder shocked a boisterous Anfield when he opened the scoring after five minutes. Sergio Escudero’s cross was missed by Dejan Lovren, and the forward had an easy tap-in.
The home side responded well and set in for a period of sustained pressure.
Gini Wijnaldum dragged a shot wide of the mark before Sadio Mane ran at Simon Kjaer, with the Danish defender shoving him to the ground in the penalty area. The referee, only a couple of yards away, waved away the claims for a foul.
Sevilla’s backline proved to be tough to overcome as Roberto Firmino headed over the bar and Alberto Moreno fizzed crosses in to no avail, but the equaliser would soon arrive.
Mane linked up with Jordan Henderson, playing a superb one-two in the area, and then squared for Firmino to put Liverpool level after 21 minutes.
Immediately afterwards, Emre Can should have scored to put his side ahead, but could only put a shot wide of the far post when through on goal.
Sevilla, a wily and experienced team in Europe, did their best to suck the life out of the Anfield atmosphere and the game, as they settled for some possession football on the half-hour mark.
Mo Salah, though, had other ideas. He won the ball back from Steven N’Zonzi on the edge of the area, before hitting a shot that deflected fortunately off Simon Kjaer and into the back of the Anfield Road net.
Sevilla expected a foul to be given for the challenge on N’Zonzi, but nothing was awarded and the goal stood.
Just before the break, Liverpool had the chance to go 3-1 up when they were given a penalty. Moreno played in Mane in the area, and he was tugged down by Pareja, who was booked for the foul too.
Firmino stepped up, but placed the ball to the right, and it rebounded off the post to safety.
Sergio Rico saved from Moreno when the full-back was in on goal seconds later, but Sevilla were let off the hook twice as they went in just one goal behind.
In the second half, Sevilla were forced to move out a little more in search of a goal.
They would have to do it without manager Eduardo Berizzo, however, as he was sent to the stands for throwing the ball away, having already been warned. ‘Adios, adios, adios’ came the gleeful shouts from the Kop, but Berizzo needed no translation.
Joachim Correa was causing Joe Gomez problems as Sevilla looked to haul themselves back into the game, but took every opportunity to hit the deck.
Gomez was booked for pulling him back when the winger knocked the ball through his legs, and it looked like he was in need of some help.
Moreno put in a strong foul on the other flank – having already been booked – and was fortunate not to be sent off, but the Sevilla protests did not last long as they celebrated a goal soon later.
Correa collected a pass from Luis Muriel and stroked the ball past Loris Karius, and suddenly, when they should have been out of sight, Liverpool were pegged back.
With fifteen minutes left, Philippe Coutinho was called on, and he arrived to a loud cheer, but he looked rusty and in need of more match time.
It was Sevilla who came closest to forcing a winner when Muriel went through and poked wide, but the score remained the same.
Joe Gomez, though, saw his marching orders for a second bookable offence late in added time as he went in late near halfway.
He will now miss the second game of the group away at CSKA Moscow through suspension.
It was an entertaining game at Anfield, but ultimately one which Liverpool dropped points in through a combination of a lack of ruthlessness and poor defending.
Loris Karius, 7 – didn’t have much to do but did concede twice; some decent distribution but a long way to go to convince most
Joe Gomez, 6 – sent off near the end and had a tough time against Correa, but OK for long periods
Joel Matip, 7 – some excellent dribbling out from the back mixed in with some errors; better than the man alongside him, for sure
Dejan Lovren, 4 – the words ‘surely there is someone better than Lovren if not as good as Van Dijk’ will be heard many times this season; erratic to say the least and even struggled with the simple things
Alberto Moreno, 6 – perhaps lucky not to be sent off, but did some excellent things going forwards, especially in the first half
Jordan Henderson, 6 – played some poor balls and squandered possession on occasions; not his best night but still of some value with interceptions
Emre Can, 5 – some terrible attempts at tackles and hardly got going in an attacking sense
Gini Wijnaldum, 8 – outstanding tonight, but where was that on Saturday? Far too inconsistent but clearly a very good played on his day
Mohamed Salah, 7 – got lucky with the deflected goal but pressed and harried well; still needs to work on being more clinical
Roberto Firmino, 7 – missed the penalty, but other than that worked tirelessly and created chances and held the ball up quite well
Sadio Mane, 7 – electric at times but another who needed to be more ruthless; showed why he will be missed when suspended
Philippe Coutinho (76th minute sub.), 6 – looked very rusty and will have to get used to a deeper role, but will do in time; it was good to see him back
Daniel Sturridge (83rd minute sub.), 6 – had few touches, but held the ball well a couple of times
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (89th minute sub.), n/a
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