Liverpool FC 2 - 0 RB Leipzig
Reds: Salah 70’, Mané 74’
Energy Drink: N/A
The big news is that Fabinho is back in the midfield. Of course that leaves a centerback pairing of Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips, so we better hope the Reds really do defend from the front today. Elsewhere, Diogo Jota is back just in time...to cover for an injured Roberto Firmino. Because of course.
The task for the Reds is pretty straight forward tonight: They’re through with any win, draw, or loss by one goal. With a two-goal loss, away goals could come into the equation, which is just perfect for this home and away where both games are played at the same stadium.
It’s lovely to immediately notice that there’s space to play now that we’re back in Europe. With the very real possibility that we’ll be without Champions League football next year, it’s important to take a moment and appreciate this competition while we’re in it. Thiago very nearly plays in Mohamed Salah in the opening minutes, but the pass is just cut out.
It has been all one-way traffic for Liverpool in the opening 10 minutes, but Leipzig nearly open tonight’s scoring with their first real attack of the night. Thankfully Alisson Becker comes up big to deny Poulsen from close range.
Woah! Liverpool actually won a header from a corner! Even got the shot on target! Welcome back, Diogo.
Thiago should have had an assist that made Bobby proud. Sadly, his flying volleyed clearance for Salah to run onto was not converted. Nor was Mané’s rather bizarre headed follow up. Regardless, it was a fantastic counter, one much more reminiscent of some vintage Klopp sides than what we’ve seen recently.
It’s amazing how European Refs actually call “fouls” when our players are “kicked.” Which is to say that Sadio Mané just drew a foul for a situation that happens to him about 10 times a game in the Premier League and is never fucking called.
Jota has done everything but score in the first half. He has been sorely missed. With about 5 minutes to play in the half, he decides to go at it alone, and does everything right except beat the keeper. Still great to see him back in the side.
The sides go into halftime scoreless. Liverpool have created more, and more dangerous, chances, but have thus far failed to convert. And Leipzig have been dangerous on the counter. It’s still very much in the balance. However, if we see a second half like the first, Liverpool will probably finish the night with their tickets stamped for the quarterfinals.
Fifteen minutes into the second half and not much has happened. This is a good thing. We’ll take another thirty minutes of boring football, thank you very much. Otherwise, Diogo Jota continues to look like a lad who is ready to go after a good, long rest, and Salah looks like a lad who could use a good, long rest. Agents tweeting periods be damned.
Leipzig rattle the wood work with a header, though it looked like Alisson might have had it covered either way. Regardless, it was a good warning shot for the Reds. No room for complacency tonight.
GOAL! Well, just as I was thinking that Salah looked off the pace in the second half, he starts a counter attack and finishes it. Jota provided the assist, which ended up being his last touch of the night.
Kloppo makes his first subs after the goal, bringing on Divock Origi for Jota, and Naby Keita for Thiago.
GOAL!! And the sub immediately pays dividends! Origi is involved in a goal for the first time in forever, beating a man and putting in a peach of a cross for Sadio to poke home at the back stick. 4-0 to the Reds on aggregate!
Klopp makes another sub with about 10 minutes to go; James Milner comes on for Gini Wijnaldum, who absolutely ran his socks off today.
It’s a bit of déjà vu for the Reds. Same stadium, same opponent, same scoreline, same second half goal scorers. Hell, even the same order of goal scorers. The net result? A relatively comfortable 4-0 aggregate win, resulting in a trip to the Champions League quarterfinals.
Liverpool produce another convincing win against Leipzig, and an even more convincing performance. Playing away from a depressing, empty Anfield is probably helping the lads more than anyone will openly admit. Anyway, Liverpool are in the next round, and with another good draw (or result) this Champions League run could have legs (or wings).