Virgil van Dijk proved he is still one of the most potent centre-backs in world football in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Rangers – and it came at the expense of Malik Tillman.
The Reds sealed back-to-back Champions League wins on Tuesday afternoon thanks to goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah.
Jurgen Klopp’s side dominated throughout, with Rangers managing just two shots on target against a Liverpool defense that has leaked goals this season.
Van Dijk was playing for Rangers’ bitter rivals Celtic and was looking for a chance to stick around. He had it within the first few minutes at the expense of Rangers winger Tillman.
Both players challenged a ball, van Dijk swept effortlessly across the pitch. Tillman then approached the Dutch international, who responded with a shove that sent the 20-year-old to the ground.
The definition of letting the intruder know you’re there early.
Footage of the exchange quickly went viral on social media, which supporters loved.
One person said: “Still manned after all these years.”
Another commented: “You want aggression, you got aggression.”
A third tweeted: “I need more of this from Virgil.”
While one said: “He seemed so motivated last night.”
Liverpool took the lead seven minutes in thanks to Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick, his second goal of the season.
The full-back has been criticized for his performances this term, but he has looked back at his best. He even received a standing ovation from the home crowd after being replaced by Joe Gomez in added time.
Mohamed Salah grabbed a second from the penalty spot eight minutes into the second half to seal all three points.
Klopp changed Liverpool’s formation from the usual 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2, dropping Fabinho to the bench and going with an attacking four of Luis Diaz, Diogo Yota, Darwin Nunez and Salah.
The German manager admitted the change was made because of his side’s form and not in response to any potential threat from Rangers.
He explained: “It (the change of tactics) had nothing to do with the game. It had a little bit to do with the game, but not too much. It was for us.
“We wanted to defend differently from what we usually do. If you’ve seen us for a few years now, if someone criticized us for defending, more people were talking about the high line.
“But then people created, when we were in a defensive pressure situation, they created a lot of chances. That was rare, but it happened more. So we set up slightly different, closed different gaps.”