Roberto Firmino strike gives Liverpool last-gasp win over PSG

Roberto Firmino strike gives Liverpool last-gasp win over PSG

Substitute Roberto Firmino drilled home an added-time winner as Liverpool won an enthralling Champions League opener 3-2 at home to Paris St Germain.

Last season's beaten finalists had squandered a two-goal lead given to them by Daniel Sturridge, on his first start for the Reds in the competition, and James Milner's penalty inside 36 minutes.

However, PSG enjoyed a stroke of luck with the absence of an offside flag in the build-up to Thomas Meunier pulling one back and when Neymar and Kylian Mbappe combined for the latter to score seven minutes from time it appeared the damage had been done.

However, Firmino - left out of the starting line-up with an eye injury sustained in Saturday's win at Tottenham - struck in the second minute of added time as Jurgen Klopp's side began another European adventure in dramatic style.

Liverpool had impressively kept at bay the visitors' feared forward line of Mbappe, Neymar and Edinson Cavani - scorers of 101 goals between them since the start of last season - for 83 minutes.

Reds left-back Andrew Robertson pretty much had the measure of the lightning-quick Mbappe for the majority of the game, Neymar drifted in and out while Cavani was little more than an irritation to Virgil van Dijk.

But the Brazil international and the French World Cup winner combined after seizing on a late opportunity to seemingly inflict more Champions League pain on the Reds just 115 days after the heartbreak against Real Madrid in Kiev.

Firmino proved there was nothing wrong with his focus with a dead-eye shot across a crowded penalty area to bring up a century of goals for him, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane since August 2017.

Sturridge had not started a Champions League match since Chelsea's 4-1 win over Napoli in March 2012 and while he cannot hope to replicate the skill-set of Firmino, his talents lie in other areas.

He proved himself to still be the club's best finisher when he pounced on his first chance to power a close-range header past Alphonse Areola from Robertson's cross.

It was a lead which Liverpool more than deserved, even if PSG had appeared to have weathered their persistent, early pressure.

Areola made three decent saves in the first 10 minutes from Van Dijk and Milner before tipping over Salah's inswinging corner.

PSG were restricted to counter-attacks and the pacy Mbappe looked a real threat whenever Liverpool gave away possession.

However, wherever Neymar seemed to threaten Milner or Jordan Henderson popped up to snuff out the danger with one crunching-but-fair tackle from Milner leaving the Brazil international hopping around in the first half.

The world record signing was restricted to one shot straight at Alisson Becker, who half-saved before gathering Cavani's follow-up, and a free-kick he drove straight into the wall.

Roberto Firmino strike gives Liverpool last-gasp win over PSG

Liverpool's breakthrough came just when it seemed the visitors had gained a foothold in the game. Trent Alexander-Arnold's far-post cross was too high for Mane but was returned by Robertson and Sturridge's predatory instincts kicked in and he nodded past Areola.

The red tide rose again and when Georginio Wijnaldum was brought down by Juan Bernat, Milner drilled an unstoppable penalty inside Areola's left-hand post despite the goalkeeper going the right way.

Roberto Firmino strike gives Liverpool last-gasp win over PSG

At this point the primary danger appeared to be Liverpool getting swept away by the euphoria and not managing the game properly.

But it was two strokes of luck which allowed PSG to pull one back just before half-time.

Cavani, starting in an offside position, attempted an overhead kick from Angel di Maria's cross and while he did not connect it caused enough confusion in Liverpool's penalty area for the ball to bounce off Robertson for Meunier to volley home.

Roberto Firmino strike gives Liverpool last-gasp win over PSG

Just before the hour Salah had a close-range effort ruled out for a lunge on the goalkeeper by Sturridge, who moments later had a weak downward header easily saved.

Sturridge eventually made way for Firmino as Liverpool kept the intensity up but one loose pass from Salah undid all their hard work.

Seven minutes from time the Egypt international's square ball was picked up by Neymar, who drove at the heart of the defence before popping it off for Mbappe to thrash past Alisson.

Alexander-Arnold had a free-kick deflected behind as Liverpool strove to repair the damage, but that task was left to Firmino at the death.

More on this topic

Champions League future not set to be immediately resolvedChampions League future not set to be immediately resolved

Premier League given assurances over Champions League placesPremier League given assurances over Champions League places

Willian, that was really something – Brazilian boosts Blues beyond LilleWillian, that was really something – Brazilian boosts Blues beyond Lille

Salah spares Liverpool blushes after Reds surrender lead against SalzburgSalah spares Liverpool blushes after Reds surrender lead against Salzburg


More in this Section

Amnesty International urge FIFA not to let China host Club World CupAmnesty International urge FIFA not to let China host Club World Cup

FA chief Clarke wants concussion substitutes introduced ‘as quickly as possible’FA chief Clarke wants concussion substitutes introduced ‘as quickly as possible’

Mohamed Salah returns to Liverpool training after ankle injuryMohamed Salah returns to Liverpool training after ankle injury

FAI to claim privilege over two more documents in ODCE investigationFAI to claim privilege over two more documents in ODCE investigation


Lifestyle

Lacemakers in Limerick want to preserve their unique craft for future generations and hope to gain UNESCO heritage status, writes Ellie O’Byrne.Made in Munster: Lace-making a labour of love rather than laborious industry

More From The Irish Examiner