Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet produced a man of the match display as the Reds edged out Hoffenheim in an exciting affair in Germany. The Belgian remained sturdy in between the posts as his defenders seemingly lost their concentration time after time, and was also on hand to deny the hosts an early lead with a crucial penalty save.
After much criticism following the disappointing 3-3 draw at Watford on the opening day of the Premier League season, Mignolet bounced back to ensure Liverpool returned home with a vital 2-1 lead going into next week’s meeting. After keeping out a weak Andrej Kramaric spot-kick just 11 minutes into the game, the number 22 went on to deny both Sandro Wagner and Serge Gnabry to keep the Reds within touching distance of Champions League football.
With huge competition for the number one role from Loris Karius and now Danny Ward, Mignolet answered his critics with an impressive performance, commanding his all-too-often lackadaisical defence, who quite simply switched off far too often against a dangerous Hoffenheim side. Fortunately for the likes of Alberto Moreno, his goalkeeper was well placed between the sticks to prevent any real danger, yet was left helpless for Mark Uth’s stunning strike late on.
The shot-stopper simply didn’t deserve to concede and was put under much more pressure than he ought to have been, given the fact that the dangerous Liverpool attackers – who were once again hugely impressive – failed to kill off a game that could have been finished on the night in Germany. The Belgian remained powerful and confident both on the ground and in the air, ensuring the Reds didn’t concede in similar terms to the disappointing goals at Vicarage Road earlier in the week.
Mignolet’s early penalty save was his fourth from his last seven penalties faced in all competitions, and in total, he’s saved 35% of the penalties he’s faced since joining Liverpool (7/20). Anfield awaits Mignolet and co. next Wednesday as they find themselves on the brink of an elusive Champions League group stage spot, and the Belgian will be crucial to their highly anticipated second leg.
The Reds now play their first home Premier League game on Saturday, with Crystal Palace travelling to Anfield in a must-win game. The return leg against Hoffenheim is four days later, where Mignolet must once again be hot on his heels as the German’s come all guns blazing in search of Champions League football for the first time in their history.