Liverpool 4 - 3 RB Salzburg
Liverpool: Mane 9’, Robertson 25’ Salah 36’ 69’
Salzburg: Hee-Chan 39’, Minamino 56’, Håland 59’
No surprises from Jurgen Klopp, with the only change being Joe Gomez who is coming on for the injured Joel Matip. Luckily, for Liverpool at least, RB Salzburg wunderkind Erling Håland doesn’t get the start, but instead can only make the bench. And also making a return to the bench: Naby Keita, who after his 60-minute runout in the League Cup last week, makes the bench. Welcome back! RB Salzburg are a bit of a wildcard in the group. Liverpool will have certainly been put on notice after their impressive 6-2 win over Genk to start their Champions League campaign. That said, it was Genk, and it was at home. We are the reigning European Champions (if you’ve not heard by now), and this is Anfield. I’m sure the Kopites will ensure a raucous atmosphere tonight.
In other Group E news, Napoli drew 0-0 to Genk in the early match. Good news for the Reds, but only if they can get the needed result tonight.
The Reds nearly get in straight away, and would have if Andy Robertson could sort his feet out. One thing is abundantly clear early, Salzburg didn’t come to defend. Liverpool are getting all sorts of space to exploit...if they can use it.
GOAL! Virgil van Dijk, Robbo, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino combine to exploit some of that space I was just talking about! Robbo is played into acres of space by Van Dijk. Robbo lays it off to Mane (always a good idea), who runs at the defense, beats a man, and then lays it off to Bobby on the edge of the box for a perfect 1-2. Mane finishes the move with a low, first time finish to the far post.
GOAL!! GET IN, ROBBO! Robertson starts and finishes the move. He plays the ball to captain Jordan Henderson who turns and plays a fantastic through ball for Trent Alexander-Arnold down the right flank. He squares the ball for Robertson, who is making a gut-busting run through the middle, doing his best impression of a proper #9. He finishes it with a first time finish and the crowd goes nuts. Brilliant goal.
Mohamed Salah misses a brilliant chance to make it three after a perfectly timed-run to get on the end of a Fabinho chip over the top of the Salzburg defense. A moment later he dribbles into traffic after another great run. At this rate, one of these will fall for him.
GOAL!!! And there it is! Sadio picks out Bobby for a free header in the box. Firmino cannot beat the keeper, but the keeper can only palm it into the path of Mo, who fires home the scrappy goal.
Goal. Well, that puts a damper on things (and is sure to be a matter of #TopBantz on Twitter). Hee-Chan Hwang sends Van Dijk for The Echo, and finishes past a diving Adrian.
That was an eventful first half! All signs pointed to goals, and boy, did we get goals. The 3-1 scoreline at the interval rather flatters Salzburg, who haven’t produced much. And on the other end, Liverpool have been rampant. With a better final ball or finishing, this thing could already be out of sight. The visitors seem content to give Robbo all the space in the world, which...hasn’t worked out too great for them so far. On the other hand, Gomez has shown his rust. Joe Go might be the centerback of the future, but he’s been sloppy in and out of possession so far.
Ooof. Adrian almost had another Southampton moment. Thankfully this time the striker’s deflection went out for a goal kick and, you know, not a goal. The game is wide open to start this second half and...
Goal. Well, after Liverpool missed some big-ish chances, Salzburg punish the Reds. They take a free kick quickly, playing it down the flank, and then crossing it to a wide-open Minamino, who finishes with a brilliant half-volley.
Salzburg bring on Håland, and we are officially in a game. I didn’t want us to e in a game, but here we are.
Goal. Wow. Leaving the guy with approximately a million goals open at the back stick. Not. Great.
Klopp makes a change, bringing James Milner on for Henderson. And shortly thereafter, the Barcelona Slayer, Divock Origi comes on. ‘
GOAL!!!! And Liverpool strike back! The way this game opened up, it always seemed likely. Fabinho wins it back high, and chips a ball toward Bobby Firmino. The Brazilian nods it into the path of Mo Salah, who finishes it with a first-time left-footed finish.
Fabinho goes into the book for a very professional foul near the center circle.
Klopp makes one last change, bringing on Naby Keita for Mo Salah.
This match was the Champions League in all of its maddest best. Although Klopp didn’t quite make the changes in order to prevent the initial comeback, bringing on Milner and Origi helped settle things down and find a winner for the Reds. Salzburg hardly had a sniff after it went 4-3, so full credit to the whole team for finding a winner, and holding this dangerous team at bay for the final 20 minutes or so. It’s three vital points for the Reds.