Liverpool could face Monterrey as Club World Cup draw is made

By Sports Desk September 16, 2019

Mexican giants Monterrey potentially await Liverpool in the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup after the draw was made on Monday.

Runners-up in their only previous participation in 2005, UEFA Champions League winners Liverpool enter the tournament at the final-four stage alongside the victors of the Copa Libertadores and could face one of four sides in the semis.

The tournament opens on December 11 with New Caledonian side Hienghene Sport facing either home hopefuls Al Sadd or the AFC runners-up in Qatar.

The winners of that game will then take on Monterrey, who lifted the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League with a 2-1 aggregate win against Tigres, for the right to challenge Liverpool.

On the other side of the draw, South America's continental champions will face ES Tunis or the Asian champions in the semi-finals.

The final is scheduled for December 21 and Liverpool are guaranteed to play at least two matches as the third-place play-off takes place on the same day.

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  • Klopp: Oxlade-Chamberlain can improve... like Liverpool Klopp: Oxlade-Chamberlain can improve... like Liverpool

    Jurgen Klopp believes there is much more to come from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after the midfielder's excellent brace inspired Liverpool's 4-1 Champions League win at Genk.

    Oxlade-Chamberlain made his first appearance in Europe's top competition since rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in the 2018 semi-final against Roma and marked the occasion in style.

    A low drive gave him and Liverpool a second-minute opener at the Luminus Arena but it was his second before the hour that brought the house down.

    After collecting Roberto Firmino's pass, Oxlade-Chamberlain unleashed a magnificent shot with the outside of his right foot from 20 yards that went in off the underside of Gaetan Coucke's crossbar.

    Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah added goals that were similarly easy on the eye before substitute Stephen Odey netted a late consolation – adding up to a scoreline that felt a touch harsh on Genk after they cut through the Liverpool defence frequently.

    "An absolutely great moment for him but Ox’s performance was, I would say, exactly like the performance of the team: the goals were great but all the rest could have been better," Klopp told a post-match news conference.

    "That’s how it is, it’s no problem. The goals were sensational and very important for us.

    "Obviously it was wonderful last Sunday that Adam [Lallana] scored the goal and now Ox has scored two goals which is really nice. It’s absolutely great, a great story."

    Klopp felt Liverpool left themselves exposed to a pacey Genk attack by carelessly ceding possession during the first half.

    "The plan worked for 10 or 15 minutes okay and then not anymore because we lost completed unexpected balls, which we were not ready for," he said.

    "We lost too many of them and sometimes we took a risk in the wrong moment. A pass or a one-two in a very tight space, it makes not too much sense.

    "Then we scored the second goal, the first goal was brilliant but the second was even nicer – all our goals were unbelievably beautiful – and the second looked like it was a proper knock for Genk."

    Klopp confirmed Andy Robertson's second-half substitution was not caused by an injury after the Scotland international endured some torrid moments against Genk winger Junya Ito.

  • Oxlade-Chamberlain hails 'inspirational' Liverpool team-mates after star turn Oxlade-Chamberlain hails 'inspirational' Liverpool team-mates after star turn

    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain took inspiration from Liverpool's Champions League triumph last season as he took the early steps in his own return to elite football.

    Oxlade-Chamberlain was the Reds' star performer with a superb brace in their 4-1 win at Genk on Wednesday, keeping Jurgen Klopp's side a point behind Group E leaders Napoli on their European title defence.

    The England midfielder's last appearance in Europe's top competition ended in heartache as he suffered a serious knee injury against Roma in the 2018 semi-final.

    He returned to fitness to be an unused substitute when Liverpool beat Tottenham in last season's final and the 26-year-old revelled in being back on centre stage in Belgium.

    "It's nice to be back out there. It's a special tournament to play in. A competition that we all want to grow up and play in one day," Oxlade-Chamberlain told BT Sport.

    "Seeing the boys do so well in it last year, then I was fortunate to get back involved on the bench on the big day in the final. Watching the boys bring it home was inspirational and [made it] something that I've wanted to get back to do.

    "It's just nice to be back in the starting line-up, trying to put in a performance to help the team. To get a few goals is a bonus."

    Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring in the second minute with a deflected low drive.

    It was his second that will live longest in the memory, however – a sublime strike with the outside of his right foot from 20 yards that cannoned into the net via the underside of the crossbar.

    "Everyone will be delighted for him," said James Milner, who battled against Genk side at right-back before moving to left-back in the second half, told BT Sport.

    "The things people don't see behind the scenes at a training ground, the long hours and time spent in the treatment room and gym on their own.

    "I think that goal was coming, to be honest. He had a couple of sighters at Old Trafford [during Liverpool's 1-1 Premier League draw on Sunday], just getting his range right.

    "We want him to be positive when he's in there, he's got a great strike on him, he's good in those pockets with dribbling ability.

    "It's good to have him back as another option in that midfield where there's great competition for places."

    Genk captain Mbwana Samatta had a first-half goal disallowed for marginal offside in the build-up and the hosts had plenty of chances to score before substitute Stephen Odey's 88th-minute consolation – a tidy turn and shot after Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah coolly made the points safe.

    "In the first half we got a bit sloppy and we've got to do a lot better if we want to go further in this competition," Oxlade-Chamberlain added.

    "Second half it was quite mature. We controlled the game. Disappointing to concede but it was a good night all round."

  • Genk 1-4 Liverpool: Oxlade-Chamberlain revels on Champions League return Genk 1-4 Liverpool: Oxlade-Chamberlain revels on Champions League return

    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain reintroduced himself to the Champions League in style with two goals in Liverpool's 4-1 win over Genk.

    The England midfielder's last appearance in the competition came in the 2018 semi-final, when he suffered a serious knee injury that decimated a year of his career.

    Recalled to Jurgen Klopp's midfield alongside Naby Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain's second-minute opener took a slight deflection but a majestic second before the hour was emphatically all his own work.

    Substitute Stephen Odey swivelled to finish in the 88th minute - a deserved reward for Genk's attacking endeavours - although Sadio Mane and the returning Mohamed Salah had put the result way beyond doubt by that stage.

    Genk quickly faced a tall order when Oxlade-Chamberlain was given ample room 25 yards from goal to line up a low drive that deflected past the helpless Gaetan Coucke.

    Bryan Heynen snatched at a chance to equaliser before Alisson saved from Paul Onuachu – the Liverpool defence undone by two long balls over the top in quick succession.

    The same ploy looked like it might bear fruit in the 20th minute, only for Junya Ito to lose his footing inside the visitors' box.

    Mane was denied by a fine Coucke save on the end of a return rabona flick from Roberto Firmino before Liverpool were granted a VAR reprieve – Ito shown to be fractionally offside before his inviting cross was powered home by Mbwana Samatta.

    Samatta was unable to slide in a low 40th-minute delivery from Ito as Liverpool again looked defensively vulnerable.

    The hosts' pacey, direct approach once more looked dangerous after the restart, meaning Oxlade-Chamberlain's immaculate second gave Klopp's men much-needed breathing space.

    Firmino latched on to Naby Keita's chipped pass and laid it back to the opening goalscorer outside the area, where a sublime strike with the outside of his right boot sent the ball whistling past Coucke and into the net via the underside of the crossbar.

    Salah teed up on Mane for a cute 77th-minute finish before dribbling into space and slotting past Coucke three minutes from time for another quality Liverpool goal as they stayed a point behind Group E leaders Napoli, though Odey's late goal spoiled their clean sheet.

    What does it mean? Klopp's men unbowed after tough away assignments

    Liverpool were far from their fluent best before Adam Lallana snatched a late draw at Manchester United on Sunday and Genk made much of the running here. The Premier League leaders were again able to offset signs of weakness with rugged grit and determination – qualities best typified by James Milner getting to work in both full-back positions.

    Year of the Ox?

    It has been a long, gruelling road back to this point for Oxlade-Chamberlain and his was a display to warm the coldest heart. The former Arsenal man provides a goal threat from midfield Liverpool often lack, although few of his efforts from this point will match his stunning 57th-minute intervention.

    Genk attack leaves Robertson squashed

    The lively and erratic Ito delighted and frustrated the Genk faithful in equal measure but he subjected Reds left-back Andy Robertson to an unusually torrid outing. Klopp's decision to send on Joe Gomez in his place and push Milner to left-back in the 63rd minute spoke volumes.

    What's next?

    Liverpool host Tottenham on Sunday, with Mauricio Pochettino's men looking to build on a morale-boosting 5-0 win over Red Star Belgrade. Genk host Cercle Brugge a day earlier as they try to improve upon their sixth position in the Belgian First Division.

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