It was goals galore again of Wednesday evening as the rampant Reds romped into the Champions League proper, thrashing a shellshocked Hoffenheim side 4-2.
Hoffenheim manager Julian Nagelsmann had claimed beforehand that he was not in awe of Anfield and that his team would not be affected by the atmosphere; but they were like deer in the headlights as Liverpool fans roared with goals from Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and a brace from Emre Can, with only the standard suspect defending from Dejan Lovren giving the visitors even a sniff of an upset.
On a night to remember at Anfield, who were Liverpool’s three stars?
Wow, what a performance from our new favourite Brazilian! Made everything tick around him, demonstrated sublime control and awareness and seemed to be everywhere.
He delivered a beautiful assist for Emre Can’s second and would have had another if Gini Wijnaldum hadn’t struck the post leaving it on a plate for Mo Salah instead; and finally Bobby got his reward when Jordan Henderson broke clear and squared it to him when it almost looked easier for the skipper to have scored himself. With his usual cool head, Firmino kept his discipline to stay onside and swept the ball home to ease any fears of a Hoffenheim comeback.
A colossal display, if he can keep this up he will be the fulcrum of our attack all season.
Released in a number 8 role, Can made another case for being more influential than his midfield rivals with a powerhouse display. When Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana return to the side, it will be fascinating to see who Klopp opts for, but for now, it was great to see him exploiting the spaces created by the dynamic trio in front of him last night.
Can broke on to a deft back heel from Sadio Mane to slot home the opener and looked dangerous throughout the first half in particular, being involved in the move of the match as he rounded off lovely interplay from Wijnaldum, Mane (again) and Firmino,
With his contract situation hanging over him this summer, hopefully that can now be resolved and Emre settles in for a few more years at the centre of our midfield, because performances like last night demonstrate how much he has to offer in both halves of the pitch.
It would be harsh to leave Mane out of a top three ranking for any of our games so far this season, such is his impact whenever he plays. He did the business as usual yesterday evening, looking as fast and dangerous as ever and playing in Emre Can with a delightful backheel to open the scoring floodgates.
In fact, Mane was such a threat in the first half that Nagelsmann was forced to withdraw the beleaguered Havard Nordtveit after only 24 minutes of play.
Alongside partners in crime Salah and Firmino (and with Barcelona’s famed ‘MSN’ attack no more), there’s possibly no threesome in world football that opposing teams would rather avoid, especially when chasing a game. Any space left in behind is ruthlessly exploited and when Mane and Salah in particular shake off some of the rust from their finishing, the trio will cause havoc.
All systems go in attack then for Klopp’s men, now if only he could sort the defence…