Liverpool drew 0-0 with Bayern Munich in the first-leg of the Champions League round of 16 in a strong defensive showing despite the suspension of Virgil van Dijk and continued injury of Dejan Lovren. The result means that Jurgen Klopp's side will go to Germany knowing that a score draw would see them advance.
Story of the game
Liverpool were a little wayward in the opening exchanges, typified by the nerves of perennially consistent performer Andy Robertson who knew a yellow card would rule him out of the second-leg. Indeed, Bayern were almost gifted first blood in the 13th minute after Joel Matip cleared Serge Gnabry's cross off of Alisson. Thankfully the ball ricocheted out of play, but it was an early indication of the away side's threat.
A relatively mundane interception from Jordan Henderson later and the Anfield crowd were once again riled up, urging their team forward on the attack. They dually obliged too, with the Liverpool captain whipping a beautiful long-range ball into the path of Mohamed Salah, who was just unable to control the ball and direct his effort towards goal. The biggest chance of the game would fall to Sadio Mane, however, with a mazy run from Naby Keita pushing possession into the Senegalese international's path. Failing to realise the time he had, Mane snapped at the chance, sending a shot wide of the mark on the turn. Later miscuing an overhead kick before Joel Matip found himself on the end of Roberto Firmino's cutback, it was a half of nearly moments for Liverpool but one that promised to deliver a crucial goal.
Such a goal never came, with the second-half failing to retain the snappy tempo of the first. Gnabry would once again threaten to steal an away goal for Bayern, sending a shot just over the bar from outside the box before a series of free-kicks and corners were squandered by the Reds.
Takeaways from the match
Despite the stalemate, there were several positives to take for Jurgen Klopp as he heads into another huge game against Manchester United on Sunday.
Without the crucial influence of Virgil van Dijk, who has made an insurmountable difference to the club's defensive picture, Robert Lewandowski would've been licking his lips at the prospect of facing a make-shift pairing of Fabinho and Joel Matip. However, it was the duo who came out on top, stifling the striker as Bayern achieved no shots on target during the ninety minutes. But for a few mishaps in the first-half, Matip was a towering influence at the heart of the defence while Fabinho once again expressed his versatility, snapping into tackles and showing a great reading of the game on the occasions the away side did threaten.
Jordan Henderson was another standout performer, delivering a captain's performance on the big stage. Despite continuing to suffer strong criticism from some members of Liverpool's fanbase, Tuesday's display showed exactly why Jurgen Klopp continues to value the England midfielder so highly. Covering the ground to makeup for any mistakes from his teammates, Henderson also provided an impetus to the tempo when required, sparking the crowd into life to deliver another famous Anfield atmosphere. This was a top draw performance and one of real consistency on a night where Liverpool knew their defence was vulnerable.