Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain wonderstrike helps Liverpool down Genk in Belgium
So it seemed fitting that the moment he would show he is primed to get back to his best was back on the European stage.
Oxlade-Chamberlain scored his first Liverpool goal since that night against City in April 2018 after just 110 seconds here to kick-start a four-goal rout against Genk in Belgium. And his second was simply sensational – worthy of winning any game.
But if just in case there was any doubt Sadio Mane and Mo Salah ensured the three points with two more as the Reds trashed the Belgium outfit Genk at the Luminus Arena.
It definitely meant Stephen Odey’s late strike for the hosts counted for little as Liverpool remained just a point behind Group E leaders Napoli.
This was an audition of sorts for Oxlade-Chamberlain.
There is room for improvement in this Liverpool side as Jurgen Klopp’s active night on the touchline may suggest.
But Oxlade-Chamberlain gave his manager something to think about going forward if he wants a more dynamic approach, even if it leaves the Reds more exposed.
To displace either Jordan Henderson or Gini Wijnaldum in Klopp’s preferred midfield three alongside Fabinho won’t be easy and there’s competition from elsewhere.
A brief cameo appearance against Manchester United at the weekend gave hope that £52.7m signing Naby Keita may be ready to really show his worth in a Liverpool shirt and he also started.
But it would be Oxlade-Chamberlain who would steal the show.
And it was the Brazilian’s pass which set up Oxlade-Chamberlain’s low strike which found the corner via a slight deflection with one minute 50 seconds on the clock.
The horrific knee injury he suffered in the semi-final against Roma in his debut season meant he couldn’t kick on after a fine start to life at Anfield and was out of action for a year.
But this was him heading back to his best form.
Liverpool were looking to get just their second group win away from Anfield in this competition under Klopp.
He had warned his side before the game that their form on the road was risking their chance of progression, even if they were expected to ease past the Belgium outfit. They heeded his advice.
But the game still felt in the balance until Roberto Firmino’s pass back into the path of Oxlade-Chamberlain was met with the outside of his right boot and found the net via the underside of the crossbar.
Salah had looked sluggish throughout but with 13 minutes to go his delightful pass through allowed Mane to clip one over Genk keeper Gaetan Coucke.
And then Egyptian ace Salah got his goal as he turned three Genk defenders before slotting home.