Reigning Premier League champions Liverpool defeated Eredivisie champions Ajax, 1-0, to kick things off for Group D in the Champions League on Wednesday. The match was the first test for Liverpool without their otherworldly defender Virgil van Dijk, who recently needed knee surgery after picking up an injury against Everton.
The result almost seemed doomed from the start for Ajax, who had to utilize an early sub in the match during the ninnth minute as striker Mohammed Kudus went down with an injury off the ball. The team did well to recover and stayed aggressive in their attack applying pressure to Liverpool's defense but were unable to break through on goal.
The game turned in the 35th minute as an own goal gave Liverpool the lead due to Sadio Mane's crafty work to shake off his defender and cut into the box to get a shot off which took an awkward quick bounce and left an unsuspecting Nicolas Tagliafico with an own goal.
Ajax, to their credit, remained diligent in their attack. The hosts nearly equalized ahead of halftime, as Dusan Tadic made a run and nearly nailed a chip over the keeper, but Fabinho recovered brilliantly and was there to make the goa-line clearance to keep Liverpool ahead.
The lead would remain, despite a strong effort from the home side to start the second half with a shot that went off the post in the 46th minute.
The entire second half would see lots of open play from the two sides, with each getting opportunities on goal down the stretch. Liverpool would try and make the most of their substitutions, utilizing them all in the second half. Ajax would have another opportunity into stoppage time, with Tagliafico nearly redeeming himself with a whipped cross that challenged the keeper, but the result would stand in favor of Liverpool..