Oxlade-Chamberlain takes plaudits as brace fires Liverpool to Genk victory
Genk (Belgium) (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp admitted his delight for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as the midfielder made the most of a rare start by scoring twice in Liverpool’s 4-1 Champions League win over Genk in Belgium on Wednesday.
The England international, who missed almost all of last season due to injury and has been used sparingly in this campaign, opened the scoring in the second minute at the Luminus Arena.
He then scored the visitors’ second, a sumptuous finish also from outside the box, just before the hour.
Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah added further goals for the holders before substitute Stephen Odey pulled one back for Genk.
“Absolutely great moment for him. Ox’s performance was exactly like that of the team — the goals were great but all the rest could have been better, but that’s how it is, it’s no problem,” Klopp said.
His contribution came after another fringe player, Adam Lallana, scored a late equaliser against Manchester United at the weekend.
“The goals were sensational and very important for us — it was wonderful last Sunday when Adam scored the goal and now Ox scored two which was really nice, absolutely great, a great story.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain, 26, came back from a serious knee injury in time to be an unused substitute in last season’s Champions League final victory.
“It’s a special tournament to play in. It was great to see the boys do so well last year, being on the bench at the end and watching the boys bring it home,” he told BT Sport.
“It’s nice to be back in the starting line-up and to get a couple of goals is a bonus.”
It was also an overdue away win at this stage of the competition for Klopp’s side, who had won just once in seven away group-stage matches before this trip.
They went all the way last season despite losing all three away group games.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, Dejan Lovren and Naby Keita all started for a Liverpool side deprived of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joel Matip in defence, while Salah returned after missing the Manchester United clash.
Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring from Liverpool’s first attempt, his right-foot strike from 25 yards finding the bottom-left corner.
It was difficult not to fear for Genk after that, but the Belgian champions were defending a decent record at home in the Champions League group stage.