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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Teenager puts Liverpool on brink of Champions League group stages

Alexander-Arnold admits he had to be egged on by teammates to take the free-kick and open the scoring in a 2-1 win over Hoffenheim

Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold scores with a curling free-kick. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold scores with a curling free-kick. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold admitted that he had to be encouraged by his team-mates to take the free-kick that set Liverpool on the way to victory in the first leg of their Champions League play off against German side Hoffenheim.

Alexander-Arnold whipped his shot over a seven-man wall from outside the area to open the scoring in a 2-1 victory that left Liverpool poised to reach the group stage of the competition for only the second time in eight years.

Alexander-Arnold was making his European debut because of injury to regular right-back England international Nathaniel Clyne but justified his inclusion with a strong performance in both attack and defence in addition to the 35th-minute goal.

With regular free-kick taker Philippe Coutinho absent for a second match because of injury and speculation over his future after an approach from Barcelona, the teenager was pressed into action following a foul on Sadio Mane.

“I kind of got egged on to take the free-kick, to be honest,” said the Liverpool-born teenager making only his 14th senior appearance for the club. “I never put my hand up first but I had the confidence to take it and it paid off.”

The club opened the Premier League season with a 3-3 draw that highlighted failings within the Liverpool defence, that were again in evidence against Hoffenheim’s similarly-styled pressing game.

Liverpool scored a second goal 13 minutes from time when James Milner’s cross was deflected in by Hoffenheim substitute Havard Nordtveit. But after an open and frenetic game, the home side scored a late goal through Mark Uth to set up an exciting second leg at Anfield.

The away side owed their lead to goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, who saved a weakly-struck Andrej Kramaric penalty early in the game, followed by a string of other saves before he was finally beaten by Uth.

"We will be disappointed with the late goal because we wanted to take a clean sheet back to Anfield," said Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson. "Overall we have got to be pleased with the result and how we played at times."