After another disappointing display in the league over the weekend, it’s nice to see the Liverpool men decide that the Champions League is where they’re going to perform well.
The Reds traveled north to Glasgow to face Rangers for the second leg of their Champions League tie, and ended with a 1-7 victory and the fastest hat trick in Champions League history thanks to Mohamed Salah from the bench. Virgil Van Dijk partnered with Ibrahima Konate as Joel Matip was unfortunately injured against Arsenal, but the refresh in the defensive end of things seemed to help re-jig some brains. Liverpool went down early (again) to a goal from Scott Arfield but Roberto Firmino brought us level just before the end of the first half.
And then then floodgates opened in the second half.
“Yeah, it was great,” said Van Dijk following the match.
“I think obviously what we expected definitely happened with the fans behind them, especially in the beginning. They tried to give everything and you have to be very composed and play the ball quick from side to side, between the lines, get on the ball, put your body in between the ball and the player and play with composure.
“I think at times we did it, in the first half we could have done it better, but second half we did it much more.”
Van Dijk, former Celtic man and no stranger to the Rangers fans, knows the Ibrox well (even if it’s been awhile). The defensive performance was much different to what we’ve been seeing - in that it was effective - but of course wins don’t come from defense alone. In the immortal words of Michael Owen, you have to score goals to win games, and the defender was clearly very proud of our goalscorers.
“Yeah, obviously they had to come - Rangers in this case. So, the spaces will be there if you play it well,” Van Dijk continued.
“The quality they have they showed again tonight. We need it for the rest of the season, of course - good goals.”
7 goals and the fastest hat trick in Champions League history is nothing to scoff at, and with Liverpool’s injury problems only continuing, is it fair to say that this was a statement win? Especially with Manchester City on the horizon?
“It’s not a bad thing winning 7-1 here,” the defender said. “I think from the outside point of view obviously everyone expected us to win here, but we take it a game at a time.
“We know that we are in a tough period, and we take it game by game - that’s how we approached tonight. That’s how we will approach the big one on Sunday [vs Manchester City].
“They’re on fantastic form, it’s always difficult games against each other for both sides. We’ll prepare well, recover and be ready for Sunday.”