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Liverpool passes first post-Van Dijk injury test at Ajax

Ajax - Liverpool

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 21: (THE SUN OUT,THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT)Fabinho of Liverpool during the UEFA Champions League Group D stage match between Ajax Amsterdam and Liverpool FC at Johan Cruijff Arena on October 21, 2020 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Ajax - Liverpool: The first match without Virgil van Dijk was a win for Liverpool, the clean sheet away result likely a big comfort for Reds supporters around the world.

Liverpool rode a Nicolas Tagliafico own goal past Ajax in Amsterdam for a 1-0 win in the first match of their 2020-21 UEFA Champions League campaign.

[ MORE: Fernandinho faces injury layoff ]

Fabinho partnered with Joe Gomez in defense and was quite good for the Reds, who subbed off Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, and Mohamed Salah at the hour mark.

Three things we learned from Ajax - Liverpool

1. Fabinho passes first test: Virgil van Dijk is irreplaceable but Fabinho at times looked like he’s been trained by the Dutch megastar if we’re honest. The Brazilian had a few early moments that kept Ajax from opening the scoring including a great clearance off the line. Promising.

2. Liverpool wins despite tepid performance: The Reds produced few moments of real danger. Even the goal came from a mishit Mane shot that took a slight turn even before Tagliafico hit it into his own goal. One of the oft-repeated marks of a good team is winning when you’re not at your best and the Reds definitely did that.

Ajax is an okay team but nowhere near where they were when Donny van de Beek, Mathijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong, and Co. were running things. But this was no less impressive than a 1-0 against any number of PL teams.

3. Onana continues to impress: One of the few young stars Ajax has not sold was strong in defeat. Andre Onana made six saves, though none of them were difficult enough to qualify as a big chance, and will only have continued to grow his renown as a keeper in command of his box.

Man of the Match

Is it cute to say Fabinho? Yes. Is it right? Yes. Daley Blind was also pretty good in defeat.

Ajax - Liverpool recap

Fabinho made a fine intervention when Dusan Tadic led a dangerous move around the penalty spot, the first post-VVD test passed by the able Brazilian,

Adrian had a pair of early scares including a clearance right into a pressing Tadic that became a corner, but he also made a close-range stop in the 33rd to keep the match scoreless.

The Reds took the lead off an own goal, Mane’s poor shot taking a slight turn off Daley Blind before Tagliafico’s mishit clearance turned behind Andre Onana.

Fabinho made an incredible goal line clearance just before halftime as Ajax might’ve made it 1-1 in the 44th.

Davy Klaassen smashed a shot off the inside of the bar just after halftime and an ensuing free kick was well handled by Liverpool.

The Reds had a series of corners before the hour mark but the next danger to a goalkeeper came from Ajax when Adrian was forced to make a fine save on Quincy Promes.