Liverpool raced to an early 3-0 lead but were pegged back in the second half by RB Salzburg before Mo Salah scored the winner to make it 4-3
Jrgen Klopp had predicted a wild night and found little pleasure in being proved right. By the end, the victorious Liverpool manager sported a face like thunder while his beaten counterpart, Jesse Marsch, indulged in fist-pump celebrations in front of the Salzburg supporters. At least Mohamed Salah stuck to the script.
The Egypt international struck the 17th and 18th European goals of his Liverpool career as the European champions survived a stirring Salzburg comeback to kickstart the defence of their title. Salahs first of the night swept Liverpool into a three-goal lead after 36 minutes. Klopps warning about the threat and adventure of the Austrian champions appeared the product of an overactive imagination at that stage. Liverpool were dominant, then unhinged by Marschs switch to a midfield diamond. Their defence was easily overrun by a visiting attack led with finesse and guile by Hwang Hee-chan. By the hour the lead had gone. Erling Haaland emerged from the bench to draw Salzburg level. Marsch cavorted down the touchline like a young Jos Mourinho at Old Trafford. Salahs second restored a sense of European order and Liverpools superiority, though not Salzburgs exuberant post-match celebrations.
Klopps introduction of James Milner for Jordan Henderson, and into a more defensive midfield role than the captain, helped Liverpool halt the recovery and the flow of Salzburg attacks. The mature reaction to blowing a three-goal cushion underlined the expertise of a European champion and the final stages passed without trouble. Salzburgs fightback and the unease it spread throughout the Liverpool defence, however, will have concerned the winning manager.