James Milner has hailed “top player” Fabinho, while adding that it was no surprise to see the Brazilian star shine at centre-back as a replacement for Virgil van Dijk.

The Brazilian put in a man of the match performance, making several vital first-half tackles while also clearing a shot off the line to keep Ajax at bay.

Fabinho’s start in central defence comes in the wake of Van Dijk’s ACL injury, one which will keep him out of action for several months at least.

Liverpool were also without Joel Matip, who missed out due to injury after partnering Gomez against Everton at the weekend in their Premier League derby draw.

With Fabinho in defence, though, Liverpool didn’t miss a beat, and Milner says he expected the midfielder-turned-defender to step up given the situation.

“It’s always important to start well, it was a tough away game first up so that’s a bonus and they’re a good team,” Milner told BT Sport.“They were well organised, played good football and we’ve had an up and down week and so it was important to bounce back which we did and I expected nothing less from this group of players.

“Fabinho is a top player and top players can adapt and he did that. He’s played there before and played very well. I thought it was a good team performance because it was tough out there, it was a physical battle under tricky conditions.

“We’ll take anything in relation to a goal, we had enough chances, we were disappointed not to score more. We had a good number of counter attacks which we didn’t finish off. It’s a big clean sheet, with the changes we’ve made this week especially and they’re a good team, so it was important to get the clean sheet and take the points.”

Liverpool will have little time to recover before returning to another Premier League match as the Reds host Sheffield United at Anfield on Saturday.

Source : goal.com

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