Liverpool close in on Champions League

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August 16, 2017
Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold, left, scores his side's opening goal with a free kick during a Champions League's qualifier first leg match between 1899 Hoffenheim and FC Liverpool, in the Rhein-Neckar-Arena, in Sinsheim, Germany, yesterday.

IN the absence of unsettled playmaker Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool turned to an 18-year-old right back making his European debut for some set-piece magic in their Champions League play-off win against Hoffenheim yesterday.

Trent Alexander-Arnold didn't disappoint.

Talked up at Anfield as a potential star of the future, Alexander-Arnold curled in a free kick from 30 yards (metres) to set Liverpool on their way to a 2-1 victory over a German side making its debut in European competition.

full breakthrough

"Our little hero," Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said of Alexander-Arnold, who has been at the English club since the age of 6, has played for England's youth teams and is making his full breakthrough in the first team this season while Nathaniel Clyne is injured.

It was his first goal for the club, on his ninth start.

"The free kick is no coincidence, he's been doing that every day in training," said Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson, one of a number of senior players who are happy to hand over free kicks and corners to the teenager. "Now he's done it on the big stage."

Coutinho usually hogs the set pieces for Liverpool, but the Brazil international is currently not available, with the club saying he has a back injury. Coutinho put in a transfer request last week after he was the subject of a second bid from Barcelona, which Liverpool rejected before saying he was not for sale.

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