It was as complete a performance as you could’ve asked for. Liverpool came into the final Champions League group stage match against Spartak Moscow needing a point to advance to the last 16 and win to top the group. Given the labored performance the last time the two teams shared the points in September, there was certainly some degree of trepidation around the Reds fanbase going into the decisive match with a loss booting Jürgen Klopp’s side out of the qualifying places completely.
Instead, a scintillating, rampant 7-0 demolition helmed by the attacking monster of Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah tore the Russians apart to demonstrate just how far the Reds have come since that “Fab Four” made their muted debut this same fixture two months ago.
Liverpool manager, Jürgen Klopp, who has masterminded the stark turn in fortunes from earlier in the season, declared his team ready to take all comers in the knockout rounds:
“I don't mind too much who we get—usually I always get Real Madrid so we will see", the Liverpool boss said in his post-match interview.
"We have no preferred opponents, it will be really nice after a long time. I love this kind of news."
"Spartak Moscow is a really good side, I know you won't think so now but they are difficult to play against.
With both Jordan Henderson and James Milner starting the game on the bench, Coutinho took the armband for the night and put in a stunning performance, kicking things off in the fourth minute with a first goal of a hat trick before being joined on the scoresheet in emphatic fashion by Mané at the double, Firmino and finally Salah to round it off, in what was from start to finish, a complete team performance.
"We opened the game perfectly,” Klopp continued, “And after we took the lead we didn't have to defend. It was a nice night at Anfield.
"It helps to get an early goal or two. I told them at half-time we needed to show that we learn from our mistakes and keep going.
"It's really difficult when we go to the next gear and use the space, it was nice to watch tonight," he added.