Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian paid tribute to Man of the Match Fabinho after a hard-fought Champions League win at Ajax on Wednesday night, while speaking to the Reds’ official website.
Considering that Jurgen Klopp’s number two goalkeeper arrived at the Johan Cruyff Arena on the back of conceding nine times in just two matches, he needed all the help he could get at the home of Dutch football’s most fearsome club.
And it is fair to say one of his teammates stepped up in style.
In the absence of the injured Virgil van Dijk, midfielder Fabinho dropped in at centre-half and produced a performance so impressive and accomplished that you would be forgiven for forgetting that this was not his natural position.
Fabinho made a number of crucial interceptions to stop Ajax breaking in behind Liverpool’s high line and capped a faultless first-half display with an overhead kick clearance on the goalline.
“Fab played a few times there last season and the more games playing together, everyone is going to get more confident, for sure,” said the Spaniard, who survived a few nervy moments to claim a confidence-boosting clean sheet.
“Obviously we know we are going to miss Virgil and it’s a big loss for us, but it’s how to react. We have many good players who can play in this position – Fabinho did great tonight with Joe (Gomez).
“We have a great squad and we have shown at different times last season, when anyone is not playing, another one comes from the bench to do the same and even better.
“We are going to miss Virg, for sure, but I thought we did good tonight from the defending side.”
Fabinho’s centre-half partner Gomez has also found himself under the microscope of late.
But the England international deserves plenty of credit after growing into a game that had begun with more than a few jitters. By midway through the second half, he was repelling cross after cross, keeping Adrian’s sheet clean.
With Van Dijk potentially sidelined for eight months, the burgeoning Fabinho-Gomez partnership should give Liverpool fans some reason for optimism.
Liverpool’s trophies under Jurgen Klopp
UEFA Super Cup
FIFA Club World Cup