Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain inspired to return by Liverpool’s Champions League triumph
Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain admits watching Liverpool win the Champions League in June provided the inspiration he needed fight his way back into the competition.
The England international marked his first European appearance in 18 months with two goals in the 4-1 win in Genk, the club’s first in six away matches in the group stage.
He was on the bench when the Reds won their sixth European Cup with victory over Tottenham four months ago, having been on crutches for their final defeat against Real Madrid the previous year with a serious knee injury which kept him out for 12 months and restricted him to just 20 minutes last season.
“I’ve definitely missed it. It’s nice to be back out there,” he told BT Sport.
“It’s a special tournament to play in, a competition we all grew up wanting to play in one day.
“It was nice to be back out there (after) seeing the boys do so well in it last year.
“I was fortunate enough to get back involved on the bench for the big day in the final and watch the boys bring it home.
“It’s inspirational, it’s something I’ve wanted to get back to do. It’s just nice to be back in the starting line-up and try to put in a performance to help the team. To get a few goals was a bonus.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s first was good, firing home from just outside the penalty area, but his second was sublime, flicking a first-time shot in off the crossbar with the outside of his right foot.
Nevertheless, manager Jurgen Klopp was reserved in his praise for the midfielder and the team.
“It was absolutely a great moment for him, but I would say with Ox his performance was exactly the same as the performance of the team – the goals were great but all the rest could have been better,” said Klopp.
“That’s how it is, but it’s no problem. The (second) goal were sensational and very important for us. Wonderful.
“On Sunday, Adam (Lallana) scored the goal, and now Ox has scored two goals. It’s really nice. Absolutely great, a great story.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain put his side 2-0 up before Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah doubled the lead, with substitute Stephen Odey grabbing a late consolation for the hosts.
Liverpool recovered from a messy first half in which the hosts could have scored three times and were much better after the break.
Part of their cohesion issues was due to Klopp fielding an untested midfield of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and Fabinho and also because he was without 50 per cent of his regular back four with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joel Matip absent.
“We had good moments, a lot of good moments, and made a very good start,” said Klopp.
“Then had another 10 or 15 minutes absolutely okay, exactly as we had to do it.
“The plan worked okay then not any more because we lost completely unexpected balls we were not ready for, which in the formation was not possible.
“Sometimes we took in the wrong moments a risk, passing a one-two in a very tight situation makes not too much sense.
“We conceded one which wasn’t cool but it’s not the biggest problem in the world. We won the game, job done. That’s it.”