Mo Salah earns jittery Liverpool 4-3 win after RB Salzburg storm back

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.

Jrgen
Jrgen Klopp (centre) leaves the pitch with his players. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

It was far away from being a perfect game but it was a typical Liverpool game, very exciting and never over until the final whistle, said Klopp. I thought after the final whistle that I was angry but then I realised I wasnt angry. I respect the performance of the opponent and we did some good things in the game. We can do better and we will do better.

Liverpool looked confidently on course for a 23rd consecutive home game without defeat in Europe following their first incisive attack. Salzburgs four-man midfield was prised apart ruthlessly in the opening half hour with the hosts revelling in the space down both flanks. The appearance would prove deceptive but there was no doubting the quality and control of the Liverpool performance as they sauntered into a commanding lead.

Sadio Man began the scoring when Andy Robertson found him unmarked on the left, a recurring theme, and the striker drifted inside Rasmus Kristensen before exchanging passes with Roberto Firmino. The return ball from the Brazilian was, as usual, perfectly weighted and the former Salzburg player slipped a confident finish past the advancing Cican Stankovic. Mans celebrations were restrained against the club where he scored 45 goals in 87 appearances. Not so Robertsons when he scored for only the second time in a Liverpool shirt. The Scotland captain was the one Liverpool defender to meet his usual standards and rewarded with an excellent goal at the end of a move he instigated. Robertson, like Mane for the opener, drifted inside the Salzburg midfield without resistance. Henderson released Trent Alexander-Arnold and the left-back continued his run to the near post where he met the right-backs low delivery with a precise side-foot finish. It was his first Liverpool goal since May 2018 and the presence of a left-back inside Salzburgs six-yard box demonstrated the range of attacking threats unleashed by Klopp.

Liverpool were in the comfort zone when Salah made it three with just over a third of the game gone, converting from close range after Stankovic dealt weakly with Firminos close-range header. Too comfortable for their own good, it transpired.

Erling
Erling Braut Haaland mocks the Anfield silence after bring the scores level at 3-3. Photograph: Jon Super/AP

Quick guide

Champions League roundup: Napoli draw blank while Dortmund cruise

Napoli, the Group E leaders, were held to a goalless draw atGenk. Carlo Ancelottis side who beat Liverpool 2-0 at homein their opening match had started brightly in Belgium, but were not able to find a breakthrough as Genk recovered from their 6-2 thrashing in Salzburg.

Borussia Dortmundwon 2-0 atSlavia Prague, with two goals from the full-back Achraf Hakimi, to put Dortmund top of Group F on goal difference. Stanislav Tecl had squandered the chance to equalise in the second half when through on goal, only to shoot into the side netting before Hakimi sealed victory with another well-taken late effort.

Valencia,who defeated Chelsea in the opening roundin Group H, were beaten 3-0 at home byAjax, who have a 100% start. Hakim Ziyechs spectacular effort broke the deadlock on eight minutes. Daniel Parejo then missed a chance to equalise when he sent a penalty over the bar in the 25th minute. Quincy Promes added a second before half-time, with Donny van de Beek scoring a third in the 67th minute for Ajax.

In Group G,Zenit St PetersburgbeatBenfica3-1 at home to top the table. Artem Dzyuba put them ahead in the 22nd minute, with an own goal from Rben Dias given following a VAR review and Sardar Azmouns solo effort wrapping things up. Ral De Toms scored a late consolation.

Memphis Depay was on target asLyonwon 2-0 atRB Leipzig, with Martin Terrier also scoring in the second half.PA Media

Salzburg had threatened in flashes but unnerved the Liverpool defence and Joe Gomez in particular whenever they broke in numbers. The comeback commenced shortly before the interval when Hendersons pass was intercepted and Enock Mwepu released the highly impressive Hwang into the area. The strikers first touch took him away from Gomez, then he cut back inside Virgil van Dijk and beat Adrin with an emphatic finish. Liverpool, and Anfield, grew increasingly edgy.

They squandered several inviting openings before Hwang crossed for the equally impressive Takumi Minamino to steer a fine volley past the Liverpool keeper. Salzburgs celebrations were enhanced by the introduction of Haaland, the prolific young striker who was left out of the starting lineup due to illness. Three minutes later, to the shock of Klopp and delight of the strikers father Alfie, looking on, he drew the Austrians level. Hwang and Mwepu combined to release Minamino and his low cross sailed beyond Van Dijk and Gomez. The unmarked Haaland tapped into an empty net.

It fell to Salah to dig Liverpool out of trouble. Dominik Szoboszlai, too hesitant throughout, was beaten to a clearance by Fabinho and Firmino teed up his fellow striker with an intelligent header into the area. Salah exploded on to the opportunity and gave Stankovic no chance with the finish. Liverpool departed relieved and reprieved.

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