Liverpool prevailed in a tough Champions League return to Anfield, relinquishing a three-goal lead but eventually netting a late winner to beat Salzburg 4-3.
Liverpool 4-3 Salzburg
Champions League Group Stage (2), Anfield
October 2, 2019
Mane 9′ (assist – Firmino)
Robertson 25′ (assist – Alexander-Arnold)
Salah 36′ (assist – Firmino)
Hwang 39′ (assist – Mwepu)
Minamino 56′ (assist – Hwang)
Haaland 60′ (assist – Minamino)
Salah 69′ (assist – Firmino)
Just under five months on from the 4-0 triumph over Barcelona, the Reds hosted their first Champions League clash as champions, with Salzburg the opponents on an exuberant night on Merseyside.
It took just nine minutes for the Salzburg old boy, Sadio Mane, to break the deadlock, and it came through a stunning, sweeping move as he played a quick one-two with Roberto Firmino before opening his body to fire home for 1-0.
Liverpool took control from there, not only comfortable in their lead but actively pushing for more, and they were rewarded in the 25th minute, with Andy Robertson the unlikely scorer, finishing an emphatic attack with a tap-in after running from left-back to striker.
But the Egyptian King had his after Stankovic palmed Firmino’s headed flick back into the area, allowing Salah to find the back of the net for his fifth goal of the season.
Salzburg had their chances, though, and had reduced the deficit before half-time as Hwang Hee-chan turned Virgil van Dijk in the box and fired a fine effort beyond Adrian to deny the Spaniard another clean sheet.
- Klopp makes one change as Gomez replaces injured Matip
- Mane, Robertson & Firmino put brilliant Liverpool 3-0 up in first half
- Hwang reduces deficit before half-time, Minamino & Haaland restore parity
- Salah puts Reds back in front after Klopp switches to 4-2-3-1
- Keita returns as Liverpool hold on for three points in Group E
Liverpool started with less intensity after the break, and it allowed an open game to play out, with a Joe Gomez tackle denying Dominik Szoboszlai, while Gini Wijnaldum flashed an effort wide at the other end.
Salzburg amped up the pressure before the hour mark as a quick free-kick found Hwang in space on the left flank, and the South Korean’s high cross found Takumi Minamino to power in a volley for 3-2.
And soon after the visitors were level, as Minamino turned provider and, having nutmegged Van Dijk with his cross-goal pass, the substitute Erling Braut Haaland was on hand to tap in and equalise.
Klopp sent on James Milner and Divock Origi, switching to a 4-2-3-1 formation as with at Sheffield United four days previous, and the two central figures combined to put the Reds back in front, Firmino nodding Salah through for his second.
That ultimately proved decisive, as Liverpool were able to hold on for a close-fought victory with a scoreline that should have been much more comfortable given their first-half dominance.
Regardless, the three points are the Reds’, keeping their hopes of a successful defence of the European Cup alive and well.
* Video via BT Sport; geographic restrictions may apply.
TIA Man of the Match: Andy Robertson
Referee: Andreas Ekberg (SWE)
Subs not used: Kelleher, Lovren, Lallana, Oxlade-Chamberlain
Salzburg: Stankovic; Kristensen, Onguene, Wober, Ulmer; Minamino, Mwepu, Junuzovic (Ashimeru 78′), Szoboszlai (Okugawa 70′); Daka (Haaland 56′), Hwang
Subs not used: Carlos, Farkas, Andre Ramalho, Koita
Next Match: Leicester (H) – Premier League – Saturday, October 5, 3pm (BST)