Toulouse took on Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool at Anfield for what arguably would be the Ligue 1 side’s toughest assignment in their Europa League group stage. The Reds dominated proceedings and found the back of Toulouse’s net only ten minutes in, courtesy of a stunning solo effort from Diogo Jota. The Portuguese waltzed past Logan Costa and Moussa Diarra with too much ease before beating Guillaume Restes. The French U21 international goalie came up big to prevent Darwin Nunez from making it 2-0.
Liverpool’s lead was short-lived though. Nicklas Schmidt’s excellent pass fed Aron Dönnum, who showed great vision to beat the offside trap and release the untracked Thijs Dallinga who emphatically fired home in front of the Kop. Both Liverpool full-backs, as well as Caoimhin Kelleher, really should have done better. Les Violets grew in confidence and boldly went toe-to-toe with the Reds. Toulouse’s off-the-ball work to screen Liverpool’s passing lanes was remarkable, and we had an open game on our hands.
Toulouse came undone in four minutes
Toulouse were however powerless to prevent Trent Alexander-Arnold from pinging a trademark inch-perfect cross for the unlikely Wataru Endo to loop in a precise header in Restes’ bottom corner at the half-hour mark. The hosts’ ruthlessness were too much to handle for Toulouse. Four minutes later, Liverpool got themselves a third goal following a mazy run from Ryan Gravenberch with the ball rebounding off Curtis Jones’ arm and into the path of Nunez, who rifled past under Restes’ crossbar.
Only minutes in the second half, Toulouse were offered a way back in the game following a blunder from Kelleher. Suazo had the goal at his mercy, but he scuttled a shot straight at the onrushing Alexander-Arnold. The Reds were guilty of complacency, showing little intent to put the game to bed for good. Dönnum’s casual back-pass was instantly punished with Nunez running rampant and finding Restes’ post. The excellent Gravenberch was on hand to score the rebound.
Toulouse’s chance to create the upset had passed, and the gap in class between the sides was evident for all to see when Klopp allowed himself to sub on Cody Gakpo and Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian put the icing on the cake with a clinical finish in injury time. Despite a spirited first half-hour, Les Violets were comprehensively beaten at Anfield. They will host Liverpool at the Stadium Municipal in a fortnight. The evening brought more bad news for Toulouse, they are no longer second in Group E following Union Saint-Gilloise’s late 2-1 win against LASK.
Toulouse players ratings
Guillaume Restes, 5 – There’s little he could have done to prevent the first three Liverpool goals. Still, the 18-year-old appeared unfazed on the big stage, showing good anticipation and making a strong stop to deny Gravenberch in the first half and Nunez in the second half.
Gabriel Suazo, 3 – The Chilean had an evening to forget. Despite his experience, he appeared jittery, lost too many easy balls and gave Alexander-Arnold too much freedom. The way he fumbled an open goal, and failed to halve Toulouse’s deficit, is borderline unforgivable.
Logan Costa, 4
Moussa Diarra, 4
Rasmus Nicolaisen, 5
Mikkel Desler, 5
Cristian Casseres, 5
Vincent Sierro, 4
Niklas Schmidt, 5
Aron Dönnum, 4
Thijs Dallinga, 6 – He only needed one clear goal-scoring opportunity to get off the mark, and that’s what good strikers do. Showed great pace and anticipation to perfectly time his run before overpowering Kelleher for the equalizer. Had too little on his plate though, and was well-handled by Gomez and Matip. Should have been credited with an assist if not for Suazo’s awful miss.
GFFN | Bastien Cheval