Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk put in an impressive performance as the club secured a 2-0 win over Inter Milan in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16.
The Reds made the trip to San Siro to face the Nerazzurri last night. The first half was evenly matched but Inter probably had the better chances to find the back of the net.
Lautaro Martinez and Hakan Calhanoglu came closest to scoring alongside Sadio Mane. Prior to half-time, Edin Dzeko was through on goal but Van Dijk caught up with him.
In the second period, the hosts tried to increase their intensity in midfield, but this hardly made an impact in the final third as they failed to muster a shot on target.
Roberto Firmino eventually put the Reds ahead in the 75th minute with a glancing header from an Andrew Robertson cross. Eight minutes later, the lead was doubled.
Van Dijk nodded a Trent Alexander-Arnold corner into the penalty spot for Mohamed Salah, who scored for the eighth straight Champions League away game with a deflected effort.
The result has put the Reds in a commanding position for the return leg at Anfield next month. Van Dijk was adjudged the man of the match and there were no surprises.
Ibrahima Konate blocked two shots from Edin Dzeko, but Van Dijk was definitely the dominant figure at the heart of the defence with seven clearances and three interceptions.
The £49.5m-rated star won five of his seven aerial duels on the night while misplacing just three passes. He capped off the performance with a headed assist for the Reds’ second goal.
Van Dijk has been getting back to his best after a long-term knee injury. He comfortably kept Inter strikers at an arm’s length. Lautaro Martinez hardly made an impact.
Despite the solid victory, the Reds can’t underestimate Inter, who are capable of making a comeback. With no away goals considered, the tie remains fairly open for the second leg.
Liverpool have conceded two or more goals in four home games this term, but should see out Inter, particularly with their excellent record with Konate and Van Dijk playing together.
The Reds have not lost a game with the duo in central defence (seven wins and two draws).