TOULOUSE, France – Liverpool’s comeback fell short in a 3-2 loss at Toulouse in the UEFA Europa League but it was still a victorious day for striker Luis Diaz. Brighton & Hove Albion took a big step towards the knockout stages with a 2-0 win at Ajax Amsterdam.
AS Roma suffered a shock 2-0 loss at Slavia Prague, slipping to second place in Group G, level on nine points with the Czech side who tops the standings.
Bayer Leverkusen earned a last-gasp 1-0 win at Qarabag in Group H to maintain their perfect start and secure their place in the knockout stages.
Bottom side LASK earned their first points with a 3-1 home win over Union Saint Gilloise who remained third in the group.
Díaz’s father was released hours before the match, 12 days after his kidnapping in northern Colombia by members of the guerrilla group National Liberation Army, or ELN.
Diaz had appealed for his father´s release after scoring Sunday in a Premier League match, revealing a T-shirt saying “Freedom for Papa” in Spanish.
Diaz didn´t score but still tested Toulouse goalkeeper Guillaume Restes with a low right-footed shot from outside the area in the first half.
Aron Donnum scored in the first half and Thijs Dallinga doubled the advantage just before the hour mark for the hosts, who lost 5-1 at Anfield two weeks ago.
An own goal from Cristian Casseres made it 2-1 in the 74th minute but Frank Magri quickly restored the two-goal lead, AP reported.
Diogo Jota came on for Diaz in the 81st minute and scored eight minutes later. Liverpool thought its equalized in stoppage time but Jarell Quansah’s goal was disallowed by VAR.
The game was Jurgen Klopp’s 450th as manager for Liverpool.
Liverpool leads Group E with nine points from four games. Toulouse trails by two in second.
“It was well deserved to lose because they won pretty much all the decisive challenges, battles,” Klopp told reporters.
“We have too many situations where we should have won the ball but we didn’t.”
“No, I am not concerned. In the end, we were intense — we threw everything in,” he added.
“But the problem is in a football game you have to make the decisive things in the right moment to do them right. We cannot concede the goals we conceded again.”
“I only saw the video back now and for me it’s not a handball,” Klopp said according to Reuters.
“The ball goes to the chest and then I don’t see a contact with the arm, to be honest. Maybe they had a different picture than I had.”
Academy graduate Jarell Quansah was denied a dream first goal by VAR in the final minute of added time as Liverpool squandered the chance to secure qualification for the Europa League knockout stage with a 3-2 defeat in Toulouse.
The 20-year-old, replacing ill captain Virgil van Dijk in the side, poked home in the seventh additional minute to claim what would have been a barely-deserved point in southern France.
However, VAR alerted referee Georgi Kabakov to a potential handball after the ball bounced up off Alexis Mac Allister’s chest in the build-up and the Georgian official contentiously chalked it off.
Toulouse, who had won only three matches prior to this game, had been thrashed 5-1 at Anfield a fortnight ago but were an entirely different prospect on home turf, although they benefited from some shambolic defending.
Liverpool still top the group but their advantage has been cut to just two points and although they have the two weakest sides still to play Klopp’s 450th game in charge was not one to remember as they slipped to their first European defeat this season.
The only cause for celebration on the night came a couple of hours before kick-off when news came through from Colombia that Luis Diaz’s father had been released from his 12-day kidnap ordeal.
Diaz turned Mikkel Desler inside out twice to win a free-kick before his knockdown of Gomez’s cross saw Mac Allister’s volley deflected over, with goalkeeper Guillaume Restes’ parrying Ben Doak’s shot.
Toulouse gave Liverpool a warning they did not heed when Gabriel Suazo slid in at the far post to deflect Niklas Schmidt’s cross wide.
Seven minutes later Tsimikas was sloppy in possession and robbed by Donnum, who raced into the penalty area to beat Caoimhin Kelleher via a deflection off Quansah’s leg.
Midfielder Wataru Endo, who had already been booked, was lucky to escape with a lunge on Casseres but he was not so fortunate in surviving the half-time cull – and neither was Tsimikas.
Dominik Szoboszlai and Trent Alexander-Arnold were their replacements, with the unfortunate Doak making way for Mohamed Salah.
Brighton secured their second victory of the competition with a comfortable win at Ajax thanks to goals from Ansu Fati and Simon Adingra.
Fati opened the scoring by calmly slotting the ball into the net after 15 minutes and Adingra doubled the lead in the 53rd minute from close range.