Liverpool managed to fend off a spirited fightback from Red Bull Salzburg to beat them 4-3 in their second Group E fixture of the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League.
In search of their first win in Europe, Liverpool made a fiery start as former Red Bull Salzburg star Sadio Mane handed the Reds the lead just nine minutes in, after some neat link-up play with Roberto Firmino. Jurgen Klopp’s men went two up in the 25th minute as full-back Andrew Robertson turned Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross into the net with a smart finish.
The game seemed done and dusted when Mohamed Salah made it 3-0 soon after, pouncing on a rebound after Firmino’s shot saved. However, Salzburg mustered up a fightback with striker Hee-Chan Hwang pulling a goal back before the half-time break.
Ten minutes into the second half, Takumi Minamino made it 3-2 before the scoreline was made level by teenage sensation Erling Haaland four minutes later, sending the away fans into a frenzy. However, Liverpool managed to wrestle back their lead through Salah and kept the visitors at bay for the rest of the game to bag their first win of the Champions League.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 2, 2019
Here’s how we rated the performances of Klopp’s men in what was a pulsating clash at Anfield on Wednesday night;
Made a regulation stop to deny Hwang in the first period, but there was nothing he could have done about any of Salzburg’s three goals on the night. Got lucky with a poor clearance that was charged down by Patson Daka as it could have easily deflected back into his own net.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 7/10
A serious threat with his forward forays, the England international got the assist for Liverpool’s second goal on the night with an inch-perfect cross for Robertson, after having created a chance for Firmino with another lovely delivery. Sound defesively, although he could have done a bit more to help Joe Gomez defensively at times.
Joe Gomez: 4/10
Stepping into the team in place of the injured Joel Matip, Gomez looked like someone who hasn’t played regularly with some rusty passes and questionable decisions at the back. Was given a tough time by the likes of Hwang and Haaland and was guilty of losing his focus when Salzburg hit back early in the second period.
Virgil van Dijk: 4/10
A rare, underwhelming display from Liverpool’s defensive wall as he was easily side-stepped by Hwang in the lead-up to the visitors’ opening goal. Failed to organize his defence thereafter as Salzburg hit them hard in the second period and was partly culpable for the third goal. A forgettable night for the Ballon d’Or contender.
Andrew Robertson: 8/10
The Scotsman motored up and down the left flank all game long with great energy and purpose. Was involved in the build-up to the opener and then started the move for the second goal, before applying the finishing touches with a lovely finish. Defensively solid for most parts, apart from a few blips.
Jordan Henderson: 5/10
The Liverpool captain started the game with good energy and was involved in the build-up to the second goal, sending Alexander-Arnold through with a lovely through ball. Struggled to maintain the same level after the break though and was guilty of conceding possession cheaply at times, allowing Salzburg a way back into the game. Grew tired and was taken off in the 62nd minute.
Looked in control of the midfield battle in the first half as he won tackles and broke up play effectively, while keeping things moving. Struggled to contain the visitors after the break though as the midfield was overran and was caught napping for Salzburg’s third goal. Improved after the formation changed to 4-2-3-1 and started the move for the winning goal.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 5/10
Much like his captain, Wijnaldum enjoyed a solid first half during which he worked very hard and was neat and tidy with his passing. Appeared tired and leggy after the break though as Salzburg took the game to Liverpool. Had a great chance to kill the game off after being set up by Mane, but miscued his effort. Taken off soon after.
Mohamed Salah: 8.5/10
While his overall play was found lacking on a few occasions, the Egyptian stepped up in the big moments to fire Liverpool across the finish line. Reacted quickly to hit the rebound home for the Reds’ third goal and showed great awareness and composure to fire home the winner in the second period.
Roberto Firmino: 9/10
Celebrated his 28th birthday in style as he was involved in three of the four goals Liverpool scored. After missing a chance early on, Firmino played a lovely one-two with Mane, setting the Senegalese up for the opener. Forced a save from the Salzburg keeper with a firm header, which was spilled, allowing Salah to score the third.
Got the assist for the Reds’ fourth goal with a fine flick from the edge of the box. Worked hard off the ball as always in what was another pivotal performance.
Sadio Mane: 8.5/10
Made a blazing start to the game against his former club scoring with a fine finish just nine minutes in, after a brilliant run and a neat exchange with Firmino. Was a threat to the Salzburg defence every time he was on the ball and produced the cross to Firmino in the lead-up to the third. Missed a great opportunity to finish off the game in the second half though.
James Milner: 6.5/10
Replaced captain Henderson a little after the hour mark and helped Liverpool gain better control in the middle of the park alongside Fabinho.
Divock Origi: 6/10
Came on for Wijnaldum in the 64th minute, prompting a change in formation to 4-2-3-1. Worked hard down the left flank without much reward.
Naby Keita: N/A
Got a couple of minutes on the pitch against his former club after replacing Salah in stoppage time.