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5 things we learned as Liverpool beat Ajax 1-0 to book their passage in the last-16

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Liverpool secured their passage to the Champions League knockout-stages with a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Ajax at Anfield.

Curtis Jones got the all-important winner with Neco Williams supplying the assist in a win that was built from the academy.

Here is a look at five things we learned from the win…

Photo by Richard Sellers/Soccrates/Getty ImagesA real tactical battle

Liverpool were criticised for being too uninspiring in attack against Atalanta.

Klopp responded by playing his three best attacking outlets and it was a decisive response from Liverpool’s behalf.

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Ajax may have had most of the ball, but Liverpool had the better chances. Curtis Jones had the pick of the bunch when his curled effort rattled off the inside of the post.

Sadio Mane enjoyed a fierce one-on-one duel with Perr Schuurs. The in-demand central defender showcased his talent on the biggest stage with an assured performance in the heart of the Ajax defence.

Photo by Jan Kruger – UEFA/UEFA via Getty ImagesStraight out of the Academy

It was going to take something special to break down a well-organised and tactically assured Ajax side, yet the opening goal was a by-product of Liverpool’s academy.

Jordan Henderson got the ball rolling with a surging run down the right-flank before laying the ball back to Neco Williams.

The Welshman scanned his options before cutting onto his weaker left foot and zipping a ball to the back post where a hapless Andre Onana was in no-mans-land enabling Curtis Jones to calmly slot home from an acute angle.

Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty ImagesHenderson and Wijnaldum outstanding

This was the first game Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum started together since the 1-1 draw against Manchester City and it showed.

Both players were everywhere and were consistently driving the team forward. Henderson, in particular, was the heartbeat of the team and continuously kept Liverpool on the front-foot.

He created more chances (3) than any other player on the pitch and also showcased his defensive qualities with three interceptions.

Wijnaldum, meanwhile was just as influential and was sensational off the ball. His ability to retain the ball in tight spaces is amongst the best in Europe and his off-the-ball work cannot be undestated.

In total, he made four interceptions – more than any other Liverpool player. He also won two fouls and had a pass success rate of 92 percent – again, the best from a Reds perspective.

Photo by PETER BYRNE/POOL/AFP via Getty ImagesCentre-backs come up trumps

Fabinho and Joel Matip were reinstated back in the heart of the Liverpool defence.

Both players were impenetrable from a defensive standpoint and were perfectly positioned on countless occasions to thwart the attacking threat that Ajax opposed.

Collectively, the defensive pair made a stunning 11 clearences (Fabinho eight, Matip three).

Fabinho in particular, was utterly imperious and also made two tackles and interceptions according to WhoScored.

Meanwhile, Matip won two of his aerial duels, made two tackles and one interception in an equally impressive defensive showing from the towering Cameroonian.

Photo by PETER BYRNE/POOL/AFP via Getty ImagesKelleher the man-of-the-hour

If your club-captain is signing your praises at full-time you know you done a job for your team.

That is exactly how to describe Caoimhin Kelleher’s performance who was a class act from start-to-finish on his Champions League debut.

While his kicking was impressive, the Irish shot-stopper seized his moment with a point-blank save in the closing stages.

It was a huge show of faith from Klopp and it was certainly vindicated from Kelleher. No wonder the Liverpool boss made a beeline for his goalkeeper at full-time.

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