Spartak Moscow 1 Liverpool 1: Klopp's men held again

Liverpool settled for a second successive Champions League draw to kick off its campaign as its clash with Spartak Moscow finished 1-1.

Jurgen Klopp's side dominated for much of contest at the Otkrytiye Arena, but had to settle for the point earned by Coutinho cancelling out Fernando's effort.   -  Getty Images

Philippe Coutinho's brilliance was not enough to secure Liverpool's first Champions League win since 2014 as Spartak Moscow earned a 1-1 draw.

Jurgen Klopp's side dominated for much of Tuesday's Group E contest at the Otkrytiye Arena, but had to settle for the point earned by Coutinho cancelling out Fernando's effort.

Liverpool entered the fixture with added urgency following a disappointing home draw against Sevilla to open its campaign.

But it got off to a nightmare start as Fernando put the limited host ahead with a curling free-kick.

The visitor showed great resolve over the remainder of the first half and entered the break level thanks to Coutinho's second goal in as many games.

Yet Spartak tightened up in the second period and Liverpool, back in the competition for the first time since the 2014-15 campaign, failed to find a winner.

Klopp's team selection suggested he felt three points were a necessity, with an attacking line-up featuring a front four of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Coutinho.

For all those were expected to post the biggest threat, young full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold was first to go close when volleying just wide following a one-two with Salah.
 
The visitor stepped on the gas thereafter as Mane sent in a cross for Firmino, whose fine header was parried away by Artyom Rebrov.
 
Despite their dominance, Klopp's men fell behind midway through the half through a superb free-kick from Fernando.
 
The midfielder was afforded his chance when slack play from Emre Can preceded a rash challenge from Coutinho.
 
And he made Liverpool pay, curling home a delicious 20-yard effort – although Loris Karius, selected ahead of Simon Mignolet, will feel he should have done better.
 
Liverpool was behind for just seven minutes, though, as Coutinho atoned for his error by curling home following a fine one-two with Mane.

Liverpool could have gone ahead just before the break, only for a thrilling four-on-two counter-attack to be thwarted by Mane drifting offside. Picking up where it left off, Klopp's team threatened quickly after the break when the lively Coutinho's free-kick forced Rebrov into action.

 

But that proved the only real chance during the opening exchanges of the half as Spartak largely nullified its opponent's threat.

It was dealt a blow in the 68th minute, however, as Rebrov was forced off after colliding with Salah.

Yet his departure did not noticeably alter the pattern of the game, with Klopp sending on Daniel Sturridge and Georginio Wijnaldum in search of inspiration.

Alexander-Arnold continued to look as likely as anybody, capping another fine run by hammering narrowly over.

Even better openings fell Sturridge's way before the end, but the England man failed to control when six yards out and volleyed over from similar range soon after.

And the final confirmation it would not be Liverpool's night came six minutes into injury time when Rebrov's replacement, Alexander Selikhov, made a sublime one-handed save to keep out Salah's bullet header.

Key Opta stats:

- Liverpool has drawn four consecutive Champions League games for the first time since March 2002, while managed by Gerard Houllier.
- The Reds extended their longest-ever winless streak in the Champions League to seven games (D4 L3), having last won in September 2014 against Ludogorets.
- Jurgen Klopp has not won any of his last six Champions League games (D3 L3); this after winning five in a row beforehand while in charge of Borussia Dortmund.
- English clubs have, however, now lost just one of their last 14 games against Russian opposition in the Champions League (W8 D5).
- Philippe Coutinho has now scored nine goals in his last 14 competitive appearances for Liverpool.

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