Daily Express



JORDAN HENDERSON is in the running for player of the season.

This sticks in the craw of detractors who claim he is not even the best Henderson in the Premier League never mind the best of the lot.

But in his own glue- like way he continues to prove invaluable to the Liverpool machine.

The question has been asked of what has been missing from Liverpool lately. The simple answer, in personnel terms, is Henderson.

Henderson has not played since injuring his hamstring in the first leg. His absence had coincided with Liverpool’s stutter.

Back last night on a pulsating night at Anfield, the Liverpool captain reconnecte­d the link.

He had referenced in his programme notes the frustratio­n of watching from the stands but also the opportunit­y it had given him to soak up the sights and sounds of the stadium on match day.

“It was generally incredible to look at with all the colours and flags and the noise was unreal. It looked and sounded amazing,” he reflected. With all due respect to a lunchtime kick- off against Bournemout­h, a do- or- die European night in the Champions League is something else altogether.

Before kick- off, as he took his red tracksuit top off, he took a moment to gaze at the Kop as if to absorb the power of the noise cascading down.

Then it was into action as the coal miner, with the sleeves- rolled- up dirty- work man putting a toe in here and winning a header there, knocking Atletico out of their stride.

On an evening when the concession of an away goal would have been calamitous Henderson – England’s 2019 player of the year – was the counterwei­ght sitting in front of the defence.

He is such a discipline­d presence, aware of all that is happening around him. When the visitors threatened a break, he was the candle snuffer in chief and if that meant a foul then so be it.

Joao Felix and Angel Correa were both upended and Henderson penalised.

When Trent Alexander- Arnold and Alex Oxlade- Chamberlai­n poured forward to caress their crosses in from the right, Henderson was more often than not the cover.

With the ball, his role was to sweep it left and right across the rain- lashed surface, moving the Spaniards around.

The tempo was unrelentin­g, wearing, exhausting just to watch. For Diego

Simeone’s side it became increasing­ly hard to handle as the night wore on.

They came to defend and that is their calling card but there is a limit to any side’s capacity to absorb the punches.

After Georginio Wijnaldum’s header had eased the nerves around Anfield, the possession stats went off the scale.

As Liverpool continued to dominate it seemed just a matter of time before they took the lead on aggregate – and they eventually did through Roberto Firmino.

All the time, though, they had to keep an eye out for the back door. That is where Henderson came in. It all ended in tears, of course, but not for want of trying.

 ??  ?? HE’S BACK: Henderson
HE’S BACK: Henderson

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