The scoreline was close. Liverpool won their Champions League opener against AC Milan 3-2 on Wednesday in front of a raucous Anfield crowd on hand for their first European night since the coronavirus pandemic put so many things on hold.
For much of the game, though, things didn’t feel especially close. For much of the game, Jürgen Klopp’s Reds looked dominant. Rampant. Unstoppable. Something Milan manager Stefano Pioli was as aware of as anybody and wants his side to take lessons from.
“We played a really tough opponent and we put in a huge effort right to the very end,” Pioli said. “Liverpool are at a high level but we are not quite there yet. We will use this game to develop further and to gain experience in this competition.
“Liverpool are dangerous. Probably we could have done a bit more but the level of our opponents really punished us. They played a game of high quality and high intensity and in certain situations we weren’t just up to it from a physical point of view.”
While Liverpool’s performance was one that proved they remain one of the best sides in football, Milan can find solace and perhaps some confidence in the fact that they never did crumble in the face of the Reds’ relentless approach to the game.
They were lucky at times, perhaps, not to find themselves down by a greater margin, but they stuck to their task and executed well when they did have chances, and now they will seek to carry their experience into games against Atletico Madrid and Porto.
“We are the youngest team in the group so coming up against a team like Liverpool is a huge challenge,” Pioli added. “We are playing against a team used to playing at this level, but if we play as a team we can give anybody a game at this level.”