Jones sends Liverpool through to last 16 after narrow win over Ajax

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Liverpool secured passage to the UEFA Champions League knockout stages as group winners as they earned a 1-0 win over Ajax.

A second-half goal from teenager Curtis Jones ensured the Reds would progress to the next stage on Wednesday (AEDT), although academy prospect Caoimhin Kelleher, given his chance in goal, was required to make a stunning late save from Klaas Jan Huntelaar to protect the points at Anfield.

Better was still to come for Jurgen Klopp and co, too, as news of Atalanta's shock draw with Midtjylland meant top spot was clinched in Group D with a game to spare.

Liverpool had been hit by yet another injury blow in the form of a hamstring issue for Alisson, meaning Kelleher was handed his Champions League debut, preferred to Adrian.

The 22-year-old was initially a virtual spectator during a strong start from the hosts that saw fellow youngster Jones crack the post from distance.

Ajax grew into the game as it progressed, however, and called Kelleher into action on the half-hour mark through Noussair Mazraoui's thunderous effort from the edge of the box.

The Irishman should have been tested again shortly after the break but instead saw Davy Klaassen head a glorious chance wide from a well-worked free-kick.

And Ajax went even closer moments later, David Neres striking the post from a tight angle after following up on Mazraoui's parried shot.

They were made to regret those misses almost instantly, too.

Neco Williams' deep left-footed cross appeared to be leading to nothing, but a horrible misjudgement from goalkeeper Andre Onana allowed Jones to poke the ball home from a tight angle at the back post.

Although Onana was more impressive in smothering from Salah and saving well from substitute Roberto Firmino, the damage was done for Ajax, who must now beat Atalanta on matchday six to advance after Kelleher instinctively repelled Huntelaar's close-range header.

Source Omnisport