It wasn’t always easy, but Liverpool picked up a big away win to advance to the Round of 16 in the Champions League.
RB Salzburg 0 – 2 Liverpool
Liverpool: Keita 57’, Salah 58’, Player XX’
Do or die for Liverpool tonight. Only a win or draw will do (barring mad results or math). Naby Keita gets a surprise start in midfield. He was great on the weekend, but he’ll need to be on it again tonight.
Salzburg are on Liverpool right from the off. Håland nearly gets through, but Virgil van Dijk had it covered. Just.
It doesn’t take long for Liverpool to create their first chance, and once again it’s from playing Route 1 Football, with Lovren picking out Mohamed Salah over the top. Mo takes a touch and shoots with his weaker right foot, but cannot slot it past the Salzburg keeper.
This match is end-to-end, and Alisson Becker comes up with an enormous double save from close range. I’m not sure I can take 83 more minutes of this.
In the ten minutes or so since Alisson’s double save, Liverpool have done well to take the air out of the game. The hosts still remain dangerous on the break, but Liverpool have been equally dangerous.
You won’t see many misses from Mo worse than that one. The Egyptian found himself with an absolute sitter at the back post, but couldn’t turn his shot on target. Shocking miss, and even he’s a bit perplexed.
Liverpool end the half with another fantastic chance on the break. Salah played Keita in, but Naby could not beat the keeper from a tight angle. The Reds have done well to bend, not break this half; the hosts have put Liverpool under intense pressure at time, but Liverpool have missed a couple of sitters. 2-0 either way wouldn’t be unfair at the break. Mane has been surprisingly off it so far, but we know he’s more than capable of turning nothing into a big something. As things stand, Liverpool are in the next round, but only just. A couple goals for the Reds would make us all feel better.
Mo starts the half as he finished it: missing a couple of big chances. He skies the first effort, and then fails to round the keeper on the second. Almost immediately after Håland goes through on goal, but cannot turn the shot on target. Not sure I can take another forty minutes of this.
Klopp has to make his first sub of the night, and it’s an unplanned one. Dejan Lovren, who has dealt well with Håland’s physicality, is limping off the pitch after a brief visit with the physios. Joe Gomez is on to replace him.
GOAL! LIVERPOOL FINALLY GET THE BREAKTHROUGH! Robertson is hit in stride with a crossfield switch. Robbo lays it off to Sadio, who skips past a defender, draws out the keeper, and squares it to Keita who nods it home!
GOAL!! Mo finally gets one, on the hardest finish of the night, no less! He rounds the keeper—successfully this time—and finishes with a right-footed curler from a very tight angle from outside the box.
With about fifteen minutes to go, Kloppo brings on James Milner to help see the game out, in place of Roberto Firmino. Bobby pressed like crazy tonight, but will probably be disappointed with a few of his passes, especially final balls.
Mo and Sadio having a fun little pass around in the box. It does not, unfortunately, result in, you know, a goal.
Keita makes way for Divock Origi, as Klopp makes his final sub. Keita put in a second solid performance on the bounce, including his second goal in as many matches. Knocking on all the wood, but I hope he’s put his injury concerns well and truly in the past.
Mane, you’re killing me today, mate. The usually reliable Senegalese missed a sitter with about two minutes of regular time to play, which would have surely wrapped things up for Liverpool.
It was nervy at times, especially in the first half, but Liverpool got the job done (and honestly, the 2-0 scoreline slightly flatters RB Salzburg). Like so many times over the last couple of years, this side once again has the answers when the biggest questions are asked.