Liverpool did the bare minimum to beat Genk 2-1 with a performance which was played out in the shadow of the looming visit of title rivals Manchester City.
This game was almost an inconvenience, considering what is at stake on Sunday, with Jurgen Klopp’s side looking to extend their six-point lead at the top of the Premier League, and for long periods it seemed the players viewed it as such.
Georginio Wijnaldum’s first goal at Anfield since his double in the 4-0 comeback win over Barcelona in last season’s semi-final second leg should have been the platform for a comfortable win over Belgians.
However, the players took their eyes off the ball, allowing Mbwana Samatta to equalise just before half-time.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s third goal against this opposition and fourth in four games, as many as in his previous 45 appearances for the club, sent Liverpool top of their Champions League group knowing an Anfield win over Napoli will send them into the knockout phase with a match to spare.
Klopp made six changes, resting key players Andy Robertson, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Dejan Lovren – Jordan Henderson was missing because of illness – for the weekend.
If Klopp’s team selection had an eye on the weekend it appeared the players’ minds were also on it as they played the first half like a training exercise and were punished for it.
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