Robin van Persie played down Liverpool’s victory over Ajax in the Champions League on Wednesday night and says the Premier League champions were ‘lucky’ to keep a clean sheet.
After the news that Virgil van Dijk would likely not play again this season, the Reds gave a resilient display in Amsterdam to kick off their European campaign with a solitary own goal from Nicolas Tagliafico deciding the contest.
Fabinho slotted in well at centre-back, making a superb goal-line clearance, with the defence recording an important clean sheet after the loss of their talisman at the back.
But Ajax did have a number of chances in the match, particularly a first half in which Jurgen Klopp looked furious on the sidelines, and former Manchester United and Arsenal striker Van Persie felt they were fortunate to leave Amsterdam with all three points.
Speaking to BT Sport, Van Persie said: ‘They clearly missed their main players. Virgil at the back of course is a big miss, Thiago – although he didn’t play a lot – is a world-class player.
‘But Ajax had the bigger chances tonight. They played quite well, they had four or five clear chances, and normally they actually take one of them. Not tonight. So I think Liverpool have been lucky tonight.’
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Asked if Ajax deserved to get something from the game, Van Persie continued: ‘Yeah, I believe so.
‘Ajax did well, created many chances, but didn’t get their goal.’
Van Persie was, however, impressed with the performance of Sadio Mane and felt the half-time introduction of Jordan Henderson really helped Liverpool take more control of the game.
He added: ‘For me, in the first hour, it was a joy to watch Mane. His movement, the way he holds up the ball, his link-up play – I would pay to watch him! He’s a fantastic player to watch.
‘You could see Liverpool were searching in the first half, but when Henderson came on you could see his leadership.
‘He was yelling to his teammates to go out on every single duel, he was really good on the ball, confident. He was like a proper, mature player, a real captain, so he made a big difference as well in the second half.’
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