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Oxlade-Chamberlain hails 'inspirational' Liverpool team-mates after star turn

BeSoccer by BeSoccer @besoccer_com - 0 391

Pin Ox hails 'inspirational' Liverpool
Ox hails 'inspirational' Liverpool

Oxlade-Chamberlain hails 'inspirational' Liverpool team-mates after star turn

BeSoccer by BeSoccer @besoccer_com - 0 391

Liverpool beat Genk 4-1 thanks largely to a brace from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who completed a gruelling road back to the Champions League.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain took inspiration from Liverpool's Champions League triumph last season as he took the early steps in his own return to elite football.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was the Reds' star performer with a superb brace in their 4-1 win at Genk on Wednesday, keeping Jurgen Klopp's side a point behind Group E leaders Napoli on their European title defence.

The England midfielder's last appearance in Europe's top competition ended in heartache as he suffered a serious knee injury against Roma in the 2018 semi-final.

He returned to fitness to be an unused substitute when Liverpool beat Tottenham in last season's final and the 26-year-old revelled in being back on centre stage in Belgium.

"It's nice to be back out there. It's a special tournament to play in. A competition that we all want to grow up and play in one day," Oxlade-Chamberlain told BT Sport.

"Seeing the boys do so well in it last year, then I was fortunate to get back involved on the bench on the big day in the final. Watching the boys bring it home was inspirational and [made it] something that I've wanted to get back to do.

"It's just nice to be back in the starting line-up, trying to put in a performance to help the team. To get a few goals is a bonus."

Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring in the second minute with a deflected low drive.

It was his second that will live longest in the memory, however – a sublime strike with the outside of his right foot from 20 yards that cannoned into the net via the underside of the crossbar.

"Everyone will be delighted for him," said James Milner, who battled against Genk side at right-back before moving to left-back in the second half, told BT Sport.

"The things people don't see behind the scenes at a training ground, the long hours and time spent in the treatment room and gym on their own.

"I think that goal was coming, to be honest. He had a couple of sighters at Old Trafford [during Liverpool's 1-1 Premier League draw on Sunday], just getting his range right.

"We want him to be positive when he's in there, he's got a great strike on him, he's good in those pockets with dribbling ability.

"It's good to have him back as another option in that midfield where there's great competition for places."

Genk captain Mbwana Samatta had a first-half goal disallowed for marginal offside in the build-up and the hosts had plenty of chances to score before substitute Stephen Odey's 88th-minute consolation – a tidy turn and shot after Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah coolly made the points safe.

"In the first half we got a bit sloppy and we've got to do a lot better if we want to go further in this competition," Oxlade-Chamberlain added.

"Second half it was quite mature. We controlled the game. Disappointing to concede but it was a good night all round."

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