According to former Manchester United skipper Roy Keane, Liverpool’s midfield trio was the key reason for their sensational 3-0 victory over Manchester City in their Champions League quarter-final first-leg tie at Anfield on Wednesday.
With Emre Can injured, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp opted for an all-English midfield trio, consisting Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
After Mohamed Salah continued his devastating form by opening the scoring early on to take his tally to 38 goals across competitions, Milner provided the assist to Oxlade-Chamberlain, who scored a 20-yard screamer to make it 2-0.
Sadio Mane headed home from Salah’s cross to make it 3-0 after the half-hour mark as the Reds ran out comfortable winners in the first leg against City on Wednesday.
Player-turned-pundit Roy Keane lauded the Reds’ midfield trio for its energy and discipline in cancelling out the City attackers as Klopp’s men virtually put a foot in the semi-finals of the Champions League with a 3-0 crushing of City in the first leg.
“Great team performance, they obviously had a great start,” Keane said on ITV Sport’s Champions League round-up programme, as quoted by the Express.
“We’ve seen it previously, Liverpool have the players that can hurt Man City, particularly on the counter-attack. And they got heavily punished for it tonight.
“Liverpool, from a team performance, were outstanding. I thought the three players in midfield were outstanding as well.
“Milner, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain gave them that foundation to go on and win the game.
“I bet Liverpool can’t believe their luck to be 3-0 up. It’ll be a tough second leg but they’ll still fancy themselves to get an away goal and then the tie will be over.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain was a star performer when Liverpool last played City back in January as we won the 4-3 thriller at Anfield.
On the 24-year-old, who had scored in the 4-3 victory back in January and was also on the score sheet on Wednesday, Keane added:
“There’s always been question marks over his end product.
“He’s scored a few goals recently and he’s at that age now, 24, where he needs to be a lot more consistent with his performances.”
Indeed, it was a near-flawless performance from Liverpool against the Premier League leaders. Milner, Henderson and Oxlade-Chamberlain performed exceptionally well, providing the perfect base for the attackers to go on and express themselves.
Howver, it will be naïve if Liverpool rest on their laurels after the 3-0 win over City as there is still another leg to follow in a week’s time.