Liverpool has an away goal advantage going into the second leg of their qualifier against Hoffenheim after a 2-1 win over the Bundesliga team.
However, the Reds suffered a scare early at the 11th minute after Dejan Lovren had upended Serge Gnabry in the box, although Simon Mignolet then prevented European debutants Hoffenheim from taking the lead with a neat save to push away Andrej Kramaric’s poor penalty
18-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold then scored on his debut with a free-kick to score Liverpool’s first, while James Milner knocked a significant deflection from the chest of Havard Nordtveit just 10 minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute to put Liverpool firmly in control of the tie.
But once again defensive frailties were exposed as Hoffenheim substitute Mark Uth set up a tense second leg at Anfield next Wednesday with by firing in largely unchallenged after being found by a long ball into the box with three minutes to go.
While Liverpool is yet to seal a return to the Champions League group stages for the first time since 2014, manager Jurgen Klopp hailed his team and singled out Trent Alexander-Arnold’s courage and revealed he told the teenager to take the free-kick.
“I have to say for an 18-year-old to have the balls to kick a free-kick like that is more interesting and exciting for me than a little mistake he made,” said Klopp.
“It was an intensive game for him. He has still some things to learn. He thought it was offside but it was obviously not offside, unfortunately. Trent is a great player and I have to say I would rather have 2-1 than 1-0.”
Alexander-Arnold, who joined the club’s academy aged six, said: “It is a thing of dreams to make your European debut for your boyhood club and to make it with a goal was very special for me. I got egged-on to take the free-kick, to be honest. I never put my hand up first but I had the confidence to take it and it paid off.”