Trent Alexander-Arnold: My European debut was a ‘thing of dreams’

Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold spoke of his delight after scoring a stunning free kick in his Champions League debut last night.

Debut delight

Liverpool won the first leg of their Champions League play-off last night, but as important as the victory could be, against an 1899 Hoffenheim side who had been on a 17-game unbeaten run at home, only one thing will stick in the mind from the game.

With Hoffenheim having most of the ball and putting Liverpool under pressure, Sadio Mane had the chance to break away. He was cynically hacked down by Ermin Bicakcic, with referee Bjorn Kuipers giving a free-kick.

Players of experience such as England international Jordan Henderson and Alberto Moreno stood over the ball, but it was 18-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold who stepped up from thirty yards.

The resulting free-kick, which curled into the bottom corner with goalkeeper Oliver Baumann stranded, is something that Alexander-Arnold – and many Liverpool fans – will remember for a long, long time.

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Thing of dreams

Not since 2014 had a Liverpool player scored a free-kick in Europe’s elite competition – it was Steven Gerrard on that occasion – but Alexander-Arnold showed no fear.

He may never be the ‘next Steven Gerrard’, but there is something so important about having a local kid playing for his boyhood club, especially for a club like Liverpool that has had that for so long.

Speaking to BT Sport after the game, Alexander-Arnold said, “Obviously it’s a thing of dreams to make your European debut for your boyhood club. And to mark it with a goal as well was very special for me."

He added: “But, more importantly, we got the win. We’ll still be a little bit disappointed with the late goal, but it’s always good to take a lead back to Anfield.

“I kind of got egged on to do it, to be honest. I didn’t put my hand up at first. But I had the confidence to finally take it and it paid off!”.

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One to watch

At Watford, Alexander-Arnold had already shown his prowess from dead-ball situations with a succession of crosses from corners and free-kicks, and the goal came as no surprise to captain Jordan Henderson.

 “He was outstanding last season and he has come back and gone up another level again in pre-season, he has been brilliant,”  the former Sunderland man said.

“The free-kick is no coincidence. He has been doing that every day in training for the last few weeks – that’s why he’s on them. He’s done it on the big stage, so fair play to him. Last week I thought he was outstanding and then tonight, brilliant again," added Henderson.

“He’s just got to keep working hard and putting in performances like that.”

With Nathaniel Clyne injured, Alexander-Arnold will retain his place for the weekend’s game against Crystal Palace, but a continuation of this form would mean he would be favourite to maintain the first-team place on a more long-term basis.