What a performance…
On a night where Liverpool needed a big showing, my days did they get one. Liverpool simply had to avoid defeat to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League and they didn’t half avoid defeat. The Reds thumped Russian Champions Spartak Moscow 7-0 at Anfield in a magical night.
Philippe Coutinho grabbed a hat-trick, Sadio Mane notched a stunning double, Firmino and Salah got one apiece and Ragnar Klavan put in a superb performance at the back to secure the clean sheet. But who was the pick of the lot? I rate the players here:
LORIS KARIUS – 7
Largely untroubled. Made a good save down to his right in the first half and his distribution was good.
JOE GOMEZ – 7
Started off at right-back and then moved into his preferred position centre-half. Didn’t put a foot wrong all night.
DEJAN LOVREN – 7
Solid. Interesting that Klopp substituted him before any of the front four – shows his importance in the absence of Joel Matip.
RAGNAR KLAVAN – 8
No mistakes and made two excellent blocks. Done his chances of starting the derby no harm whatsoever.
ALBERTO MORENO – 7
His energy is such an asset to this team. Subbed through injury at half time, let’s hope he’s fine for Sunday.
EMRE CAN – 7
Won the midfield battle quite comfortably. Strolled it.
GINI WIJNALDUM – 7
Same as Emre Can. Some good interceptions also.
SADIO MANÉ – 9
What a beautiful footballer he is. Still not running at full pace after the injury but my goodness does he make up for it with his technique and intelligence. His first goal is so good by the way, the vast majority of players blaze that into row Z. His improvisation for his second is also absolutely stupendous.
PHILIPPE COUTINHO – 9.5
Captain on the night, first Liverpool hat trick. Fair to say the little magician will sleep well tonight. A penalty, a simple enough finish and a deflection but he won’t care, he’s in unplayable form. Good luck to Big Sam trying to nullify this guy.
MOHAMED SALAH – 8
Quietest of the ‘fab four’ on the evening, probably because he’s being so heavily marked given his recent run of form. Still scared the life out of them and got his 18th of the season. Heavily involved in most of the good stuff that we did. A very worrying spell for the Egyptian who has only scored one goal in the last two games!
ROBERTO FIRMINO – 9
What an absolute genius. The most unselfish man on the planet. Stuff your out-and-out number nines, this guy is one of the most intelligent footballers I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. How many strikers would pass up the opportunity for that second goal to square it to Coutinho? There’s a man who understands his expected goals statistics! Deserved his goal, long may this run continue.
JAMES MILNER – 8
Came on at half time, looked solid, got three assists. Is he sure he doesn’t want to play left back?
Robbed of an assist by…
Showed his unselfishness by setting up Mané for the sixth goal, even if it was slightly behind him. That miss, though…