Liverpool v Union Saint-Gilloise: Europa League – live | Europa League

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Key events

Half-time postbag: British-fans-of-Union special!

“As a Brit in Belgium – and a Union season ticket holder – I’d just like to say that, although we last won the league in the 1930s, thanks to the vagaries of the Belgian league system that doesn’t tell the whole story. Over the last two ‘regular’ seasons we’ve probably spent more time at the top of the table than any other team – including at the end of the regular season. It’s just we have this barking mad play-off system over here which means finishing top doesn’t necessarily mean you win the league. Mind you, still better than when I first started watching them in the third tier” – Dave Lloyd

“Like many other Brits, FC Union St Gilles were my ‘Brussels team’ when I lived and worked in Brussels 2015-2018, covering Brexit. If you haven’t already, do Google Images their ground – delightful 9,000 capacity [sic!] in woods on the edge of a Brussels park, with an Art Deco clubhouse. Mostly standing. Look at those stands, and imagine thinking: ‘in a few years, this team will be playing Liverpool in Europe!’” – Matt Tempest (formerly of this parish, and no doubt still reeling at the shock of his beloved Bradford City telling Mark Hughes to do one)

Half-time reading. Liverpool travel to Brighton in the Premier League on Sunday. Here’s what the Seagulls did in France earlier this evening.

HALF TIME: Liverpool 1-0 Union Saint-Gilloise

There’s just enough time for Konate to hold off Nilsson as he rampages down the right, and the whistle goes with Union giving as good as they’re getting, despite that gift of a goal. Gravenberch will be happy with his first strike in Liverpool colours, but Jurgen Klopp may not be so content with his team’s overall performance. He sprints off down the tunnel to prepare his half-time speech.

45 min +1: Liverpool don’t score from Union’s corner this time, so there’s an improvement.

45 min: Liverpool nearly give up an equaliser immediately. Amoura dinks the ball past Konate and beats him in a footrace down the middle. Alisson comes out of his box to claim only for Amoura to chip over him … but there’s not enough juice behind the shot and Konate is able to make up the ground and hoick clear for another corner.

GOAL! Liverpool 1-0 Union SG (Gravenberch 44)

Union win a corner down the left. It does them no good whatsoever. Some shoving in the box. The whistle goes for a foul, and Alisson gets Liverpool off on the immediate counter. Alexander-Arnold exchanges passes with Nunez down the left. He curls low and hard towards the bottom right. Moris spills a shot he should hold, and Gravenberch slots into the bottom left from a couple of yards.

Ryan Gravenberch scores fro Liverpool
Ryan Gravenberch slots home after pouncing on the rebound. Photograph: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC/Getty Images

42 min: Union’s fans continue to dominate the soundtrack at an otherwise silent Anfield. The home team have lost all momentum and their supporters are responding similarly.

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40 min: Liverpool pass it around the midfield to little effect, all of their early verve long gone. “If both Mac Allister brothers are at Anfield, does this mean nobody is Home Alone?” wonders Peter Bradshaw Gary Byrne, because somebody had to.

38 min: Castro-Montes dribbles in cutely from the left, beating a couple of challenges before attempting to slide Nilsson free down the channel and into the box. Nilsson spins but can’t control and the ball sails through to Alisson.

37 min: One corner leads to another, which leads to Alexander-Arnold slicing a ludicrously ambitious long-distance drive deep into the stand.

36 min: Konate shovels a pass down the middle and finds Nunez to the left of the D. Nunez takes a touch before belting a rising shot towards the top left. Moris parries around the post for a corner.

35 min: Tsimikas takes the free kick and looks for Quansah at the far stick. His overhit delivery sails harmlessly out for a goal kick.

34 min: A free kick for Liverpool out on the left, Elliott having been hauled back by Puertas. Liverpool load the box.

32 min: He’s back up and good to continue. “I think I’m going to have to replay my earlier email,” quips Gary Naylor, at the discovery of VAR at this stage of the Europa League. Well done, Gary, good process.

31 min: Amoura is down getting treatment after running slap-bang into Quansah.

30 min: Gravenberch strolls down the left and cuts back towards Jota, waiting in space ten yards out, only for Kevin Mac Allister to calmly step in and clear. Union are growing in confidence.

29 min: That Nilsson chance has got the Union fans going. They’re making the majority of the noise right now, with Anfield otherwise in an increasingly pensive mood.

27 min: Jota juggles his way into the Union box only to lose control and go over in the vague environs of Kevin Mac Allister. The home fans howl for a penalty, but they’re not getting one, and the VAR folk (sorry, Gary Naylor) agree by quickly completing their check. No fiasco this time, it’s the correct decision.

26 min: Castro-Montes threatens to outstrip Tsimikas down the right. Tsimikas slides in and handles. The resulting free kick is whipped to Nilsson, who batters a header over the bar from close range. Unchallenged, he really should have scored.

Gustaf Nilsson heads over the bar.
Gustaf Nilsson blows a chance for Union SG. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

24 min: Nunez works and scraps to win a Liverpool throw in the midfield. An appreciative round of applause from the home faithful. The big man’s long won them over, despite his love of the comedic miss.

22 min: Alexander-Arnold is afforded all the time in the world to quarterback a long pass down the inside-right channel for Salah. The bounce is unkind to Salah, allowing Moris to claim it on the edge of his box.

21 min: Elliott has been lively too, and here he dances down the left, reaching the byline and standing one up at the far post for Salah, whose header flies straight at Moris. “Is it wrong to be watching this match purely in the hope of seeing a repeat of the Diaz ‘goal’ and then Klopp’s face when he realises that there’s no VAR? Surely the Gods cannot be so kind twice?” Guess which team our old pal Gary Naylor supports. No prizes.

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19 min: That was a lovely move by Liverpool, though, and Gravenberch has been very impressive in these opening stages, strutting around regally. “Nunez the perennial blooper,” suggests Jeff Sax.

17 min: An astonishing miss! Gravenberch turns in the centre circle and sets Elliott off on a power dribble down the middle. He slips Salah into the box down the right. Salah rolls the ball across and tees it up for Nunez, who, six yards out, opens his body and … slices comically wide left. That’s Darwin for you. He’ll probably go on to score a dipping volley from 30 yards now.

15 min: … but Liverpool do seem up for this, and now Nunez has a whack from distance. Wide and always curling right. Liverpool have currently completed 102 passes to Union’s 21.

14 min: Elliott picks up a loose Kevin Mac Allister pass out from the back and should shoot from the edge of the box, but elects to dribble closer instead. His eventual shot is weak and easily cleared. Another big chance goes by.

12 min: That was a fine shot from distance by Gravenberch. The sort of no-nonsense piledriving threat from midfield not seen around these parts since the days of Jan Molby and Steve McMahon. “A pair of brothers squaring off is exactly the kind of stuff that makes continental football interesting,” argues Peter Oh. “I hope Jürgen Klopp will sub Alexis Mac Allister on, with instructions to stick out his tongue, poke ribs, and dish out knuckle sandwiches.”

the Union USG fans are sing and wave flags
The away fans make some noise at Anfield. Photograph: Nigel French/PA

10 min: Liverpool have the ball in the net, but it won’t count. Gravenberch shifts his feet near the right-hand edge of the D and pearls a shot towards the top right. Moris parries but only straight to Nunez, who walks the ball into the net. But Nunez was well offside when the initial shot was taken. There’ll be no controversy about this one.

8 min: Amani goes down with an aggrieved look on his face. He suggests to the referee that he’s been deliberately done, but it looked as though he’d run into the back of an unwitting Endo. He’s told to get up and play on.

6 min: Nothing comes of the resulting corner. Salah wears the slightly irritated look of a man who knows he should have put his team one up.

5 min: Alexander-Arnold spins his way down the middle only to be barged in the back by Nilsson. They play the free kick short, but the move breaks down. However, Quansah wins a loose-ball challenge in the centre circle, and a fortunate deflection off Gravenberch sends Salah free down the middle. He should score, but gets down to smother at his feet.

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3 min: … so having mentioned Liverpool’s early tempo, they calm it down and stroke it around the back patiently.

Kostas Tsimikas with a clearance.
Kostas Tsimikas with a clearance. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

1 min: It’s not long before Liverpool start pressing. The presence of Elliott and Nunez nearly catches Machida cold, but the midfielder, a team-mate of Endo in the Japan national side, sorts himself out just in time to clear.

Union get the game started. They’re kicking towards the Kop in this first half.

The teams are out! Union in third-choice blue as opposed to their first-choice yellow. A provocative dash of Everton in a stadium otherwise swathed in Liverpudlian red? Trent Alexander-Arnold shakes hands and swaps pennants, captain of his club for just the third time. We’ll be off in a minute or two.

Jurgen Klopp speaks to TNT and is inevitably asked about that VAR brouhaha. “The headlines unintentionally I created, I said at the press conference I am completely over it … we have nothing to do with it any more … it is now for other people to take care of that … the week started on Monday … since then, we have just focused on this game.”

Liverpool have an exceptional record against Belgian clubs. At Anfield, they’ve played seven and won seven, scoring 17 goals and conceding just five. They’ve also beaten a side from Belgium in two major finals: Brugge in the 1976 Uefa Cup, Brugge again in the 1978 European Cup. So Union are up against it tonight, though at least they’ve never accumulated any historical scar tissue of their own: this is the first time they’ve ever played a team from England, so their slate is clean. They also arrive on a six-match unbeaten run away in Europe, winning four of those games. So les Unionistes – who last won their domestic league in 1935 and the Belgian Cup in 1914 – will be rocking up with plenty of confidence of their own.

A reminder of what happened in Liverpool’s first game in Group E. Luis Diaz scored; it counted.

Liverpool name a stronger side than many would have expected. Mohamed Salah starts up front alongside Darwin Nunez and Diogo Jota, Alisson keeps goal with cup specialist Caoimhin Kelleher sidelined by a training-ground injury that required 12 stitches, and Trent Alexander-Arnold is back after a month out with a hamstring injury. Salah and Alisson are the only two players who keep their starting place in the wake of the 2-1 defeat at Spurs.

Kevin Mac Allister starts for Union Saint Gilloise. His brother Alexis has to make do with a place on the Liverpool bench. They played together for Argentinos Juniors between 2016 and 2019.

The Mac Allister brothers pose for a photo
The Mac Allister boys. Photograph: James Gill/Danehouse/Getty Images

The teams

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Quansah, Tsimikas, Elliott, Gravenberch, Endo, Salah, Nunez, Jota.
Subs: Gomez, van Dijk, Diaz, Szoboszlai, A Mac Allister, Jones, Robertson, Matip, Chambers, Doak, Jaros, Mrozek.

Union Saint Gilloise: Moris, Castro-Montes, K Mac Allister, Burgess, Machida, Terho, Amani, Vanhoutte, Puertas, Nilsson, Amoura.
Subs: Rasmussen, Eckert, Lapoussin, Teklab, Rodriguez, Imbrechts, Sykes, Sadiki, Wenssens, Huygevelde, Leysen.

Referee: Morten Krogh (Denmark).

Preamble

Tonight’s video assistant referee is Roi Reinshreiber. Hopefully that’s the last time we’ll be mentioning him, then. Kick off is at 8pm BST. It’s on!

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