Liverpool FC 4 - 0 Red Star Belgrade
Liverpool: Firmino 20’, Salah 45’ 51’ (pen), Mane 80’
Red Star: N/A
- Pre-match Thought: Liverpool will run out with as close to full-strength as possible tonight. Trent Alexander-Arnold comes back in at right back, and Joe Gomez pushes in centrally to pair Big Virgil van Dijk. The front three is the front three (welcome back, Sadio Mane!) and Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum, and Xherdan Shaqiri make up the numbers in the midfield. While cliche, the match at home against bottom-of-the-pile Red Star is as close to “must win” as Liverpool will face in this group. And if PSG and Napoli could be so kind as to battle it out for a draw, it would be much appreciated.
- Captain Virgil van Dijk walks us out of the Anfield tunnel. That just feels all sorts of right (soz Hendo).
- Trent Alexander-Arnold comes up with a big block in the box! Unfortunately it Roberto Firmino’s shot.
- Fabinho lucky not to go into the book early with a nasty and late tackle. It’s been a sloppy opening 15 minutes from front to back for Liverpool.
- GOAL! BRILLIANT run and pass from Shaqiri to pick out Robertson with a perfectly weighted through ball. Robertson cuts it back from the by line to find Firmino in traffic, and Bobby coolly takes touch before slotting. Fantastic goal!
- That goal has really opened up space for Mo and Sadio to run into. They haven’t managed to punish Red Star again, but they’ve created several good opportunities and it feels as if there are more goals to come.
- GOAL!! The notoriously left-footed Salah seems to have found his right boot lately! Gini plays a hard pass into Shaqiri, who one-touches it perfectly into the path of Mo, who slots with a first time right-footed shot. 2-0 to the Scousers!
- Halftime Thought: Liverpool have been much better in transition than we’ve seen in recent weeks, breaking at pace and with numbers. However, that final ball continues to let them down. Still, Liverpool have been far and away the most dangerous side; the visitors have had just 38% of the possession, have have yet to register a shot on target. In other news, Napoli leads PSG 1-0 at the half.
- PENALTY! It’s...more than a little soft. Mane is impeded by a defender’s outstretched arm and makes an absolute meal out of it. After hesitation and consultation with an assistant, the ref points to the spot.
- GOAL!!! Salah steps up (despite his less-than-stellar record from the spot), and powers it down the middle, past the keeper. A couple of goals should be good for the Egyptian’s confidence.
- Klopp makes his first sub of the night, Shaqiri making way for Adam Lallana. Because I guess this game needs less incisive passing, and more Cruyff turns.
- Another sub, this time Daniel Sturridge coming on fro Salah, who is visibly not happy about coming off. Save that anger for Cardiff City, my dude.
- PENALTY!! This time it’s a much more obvious call, a handball in the box.
- Missed. Mane gets the call, and hits it down the middle, allowing the keeper to tip it onto the crossbar. Sadio tries to follow it in, but cannot find the target with the follow up either.
- GOAL!!! Mane doesn’t miss this time! Gini picks out Sturridge at the top of the box, and the experienced striker slides it through for a wide open Mane. Mane takes a touch, adn then toe pokes it past the keeper.
- Klopp makes his final sub, Alberto Moreno coming on for Robertson. A four-goal lead with ten minutes to go is about the right comfort level to bring Albi on to defend a lead. Well played, Kloppo.
- Sturridge attempts another Chelsea-esque worldie, forcing a save from the keeper and a laugh from Klopp.
- Mane nearly adds to his tally at the death after Firmino perfectly plays him through on goal, but his shot can only find the side-netting.
- Final Whistle Thought: A match that was quite frustrating for a majority of the opening 45 minutes turned into a very comfortable Champions League win. If Liverpool can repeat the result in the reverse fixture, it should go a long way toward securing qualification for the knockout rounds.
We’ll be back shortly to take an in-depth look at everything that happened in today’s game with the full recap. Until then, let us know your take on the ups and downs of the match in the comments, and if you haven’t already, join the community on the Liverpool Offside, where we’ll have full coverage and lively in-game discussion for every match this season.