Some ruthless early finishing and a lot of control saw Liverpool run out deserved winners at Anfield tonight, as LASK were put to the sword by a Cody Gakpo brace, a Mohamed Salah penalty and a Luis Díaz header. There was some back and forth chaos towards the end of the match, but the win never really looked in doubt, and with that, the Reds have secured an early top finish in the Europa League group stages, ensuring round of 16 participation in February.
Below, then, we take a look at some of the winners and losers on the night.
An Early Finish: Liverpool wrapped up the game in the first half with two early goals and wrapped up first place in Group E simultaneously, as Toulouse were unable to wrest more than a point from their home clash with Union St-Gilloise, meaning the Reds will avoid a knockout round against a third place Champions League team.
It also means Jürgen Klopp can rotate his squad exactly as much as he likes on the final day of the group stage, as the result makes no difference to the team’s future in the competition, and in a period of the season where the team are playing a game every 3.3 days for over a month, that kind of freedom can be of vital importance.
The Reds have a strong, deep squad and will of course be going into the final group game looking to win it, but being able to rest your preferred starters for the visit from Manchester United three days later is a luxury Klopp will be thankful for.
Air Díaz: While most scout reports focused on Luis Díaz’s pace and dribbling when he was signed back in January of 2022, one thing appears to have passed most analysts by: his ability to put a header on target. Today’s opportunistic diving effort was the Colombian’s third headed goal for the Reds this season, and his sixth since joining the club, making up 38% of his goals in Red.
Like Diogo Jota, Diaz has a knack for finding the free space between centre-backs and an impressive ability to put his headers on target — his six headed goals for the Reds have been scored from 14 attempts — and when you can rely on passers recognising and placing the ball in those spots, goals are there to be had.
Fightin Irish: He’s a clear number two behind the best goalkeeper in the world, but given Alisson looks set to miss a couple weeks — and thus at least four games — with the injury suffered at Manchester City on Saturday, it will have been good for Caoimhín Kelleher to get such an impressive outing under his belt.
Forced to work more than the manager would have probably preferred, the 25-year old made a couple impressive saves, including coming off his line to smother a huge opportunity as the game deteriorated in the latter stages of the second half.
With a trio of — on paper, at least — eminently winnable fixtures coming up in the next few weeks, Liverpool couldn’t have lost their goalkeeper to injury at a better time, but there will still be saves to make, potentially crucial ones, and Kelleher getting off to a good start tonight can only be a boon.
Game Management: The match kind of devolved in the last 20 minutes and a LASK team throwing caution to the wind were allowed some space to run into and some clean looks on goal, without the Reds being able to punish them for it. Not a huge deal at all and it was a four-goal win, but if we’re picking nits...
Erik ten Hag: Mo is gonna be on a week’s rest when Utd come to Anfield on December 17th and that man gets feral when he goes more than three days without putting the ball in the back of the net. Best of luck.
What Happens Next
The Reds host Fulham on Sunday, a team they drew on opening day and only managed to beat by one goal at Anfield last season, in what can only be described as a classic banana peel, before they travel to historically bad, statistically worst defence in Europe Sheffield United on Wednesday. Six points are on offer. Let’s hope the lads go and get them.