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Liverpool 2-1 Bordeaux: Four things we learned

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Christian Benteke scored his first European goal to inspire Liverpool to beat Bordeaux and reach the last 32 of the Europa League.

It was the visitors who drew first blood when Simon Mignolet was penalised for holding onto the ball for too long. Henri Saivet took advantage of the mistake and scored from the indirect free-kick after 33 minutes.

The Reds were soon on level terms when James Milner netted from the penalty spot five minutes later after Benteke was brought down in the box.

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The Belgium international once again made his presence felt on the stroke of half-time. He controlled Nathaniel Clyne's average cross and fired his shot into the bottom right-hand corner to seal the victory for Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp's men now need just a draw away against FC Sion next month to win Group B and there were several things we learned in their win against Bordeaux

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Benteke Presence

The pre-match talk was not on Liverpool's impressive 4-1 thrashing away at Manchester City last weekend, but the latest injury to Daniel Sturridge.

The England international was in contention to make his first appearance for almost two months, but news emerged that he had picked up a fresh foot injury.

With a chance to impress Klopp, Benteke took it upon his initiative to show his manager all of his capabilities.

The 24-year-old still has his doubters having moved to Anfield for £32.5 million in July, but scored his fifth goal this term and is beginning to settle in L4.

Despite Liverpool netting four against City, they have struggled on home soil, especially in front of goal. A real threat in the final third is what the Merseyside outfit have been crying out for and Benteke proved he can take that role on board.

He lacked service for large periods but when he was fed the right passes, he displayed all of his talents.

Benteke had no right to score just seconds before the break. Clyne's cross was far from perfect, but the former Genk man controlled the ball with such elegance and ease. Instead of killing the pass dead, he was already thinking about his next move. He manoeuvred the ball into his path smartly and, although his shot wasn't right in the corner, the sheer power behind it gave Cedric Carrasso no chance.

There is still improvement needed from the big Belgian. He had one goal disallowed for offside in the first-half when he should have angled his run instead of in a straight line.

However, he is a presence and a natural number nine that strikes fear into defenders.

Width Is Key

Klopp does not have too many wide players at his disposal.

He inherited a squad that sold Raheem Sterling in the summer as well as letting Lazar Markovic go out on loan to Fenerbahce.

To get the best out of Benteke, crosses from wide areas are an absolute must. He has a distinct physical advantage over the majority of his opponents and uses his attributes to his full advantage.

Jordon Ibe is Liverpool's only recognised wide-man and he had a good game being utilised on both wings. He linked well with Benteke on numerous occasions which included a cross from the left that should have been attacked more prominently whilst the game was goalless.

Milner was also stuck out wide at times and his cross that targeted Liverpool's number nine unsettled Ludovic Sane who brought the striker down, knowing he was the underdog to win the ball in the battle.

Full-backs Alberto Moreno and Clyne have been given a licence to get forward by Klopp and both were keen to feed Benteke. Clyne's cross wasn't the best, but Benteke proved he can turn something out of nothing when he gets the ball from the flank.

Mignolet Needs Competition

Simon Mignolet was granted a get out of jail free card by his compatriot.

The former Sunderland shot-stopper can only be blamed for the goal that Liverpool conceded.

When pulled up for holding onto the ball for too long, no complaints could be made. Mignolet clung to the ball for 20 seconds, 14 more than what is in the rulebook.

To make matters worse, he was caught wrong-footed for Saivet's strike, premeditating where the shot would go instead of waiting.

Mignolet also handed Bordeaux an easy chance just minutes earlier when his headed clearance following a poor back-pass tried to find Dejan Lovren, instead of powerfully heading it clear.

The 27-year-old has virtually had his own way in the Liverpool net since he moved from Sunderland in 2013 due to a lack of competition.

Having had Brad Jones and now Adam Bogdan as his deputies, Mignolet has not had any serious challenges for his place.

Similar happened last term when his form dipped and then manager Brendan Rodgers dropped him in favour of Jones. When Mignolet got his place back, his performances were much better.

Complacency may be his downfall and a new shot-stopper in January would force Mignolet to improve.

Important Match In Switzerland

Liverpool have secured qualification into the next round of the Europa League, but they cannot afford to rest on their laurels.

Topping the group will be on Klopp's agenda, and rightly so.

The German will be desperate to finish at the summit of Group B and get an easier draw in the last 32. With those who finished third in their Champions League groups dropping down into the Europa League, it means Liverpool will avoid those teams.

The Reds travel to FC Sion next month with both sides battling to win their pool. Although Klopp needs just a draw in Switzerland, he will not be travelling there for a stalemate. The ex-Borussia Dortmund manager will want victory against Sion and inflict more confidence into his team.

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Topics:
Liverpool
Christian Benteke
Steven Gerrard
Premier League
Football

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