Ahead of tonight’s game with Porto, we’ve taken a look back at Livepool’s Champions League campaign so far.
Liverpool were tied with German outfit Hoffenheim, which presented striker Roberto Firmino with a trip back to the side he left to join Liverpool in 2015. A tough tie it seemed.
The Reds got the perfect start as young right back Trent Alexander-Arnold scored a glorious free kick to settle the nerves. An own goal from Hoffenheim’s Havard Nordtveit from James Milner’s cross gave Liverpool an important security net if Hoffenheim were to slice the defecit – which they did. In the 87th minute, Mark Uth scored after lackadaisical marking on Liverpool’s behalf. The result gave Liverpool the confidence to finish the job off back at home and boy we did.
Liverpool got off to a flying start with Emre Can scoring a deflected effort after Sadio Mane’s luxurious back heel assist. Mo Salah could not miss from Gini Wijnaldum’s shot that hit off the post to put Liverpool two up and seemingly on their way to the group stages. Can was at the double after he coolly placed Roberto Firmino’s cross into the back of the net after a well worked passing move. Hoffenheim weren’t finished as goalscorer the week before Mark Uth expertly scored passed Loris Karius to put a grain of doubt into Liverpool minds.
This grain was very small as in the 63rd minute, Jordan Henderson robbed the Hoffenheim defence of the ball and squared for Roberto Firmino to cap off an excellent European night. Sandro Wagner added a second for the Germans which highlighted Liverpool’s defensive frailties but no one really cared as Liverpool returned to the big time – the Champions League Group Stage.
The group stage draw was very kind to Liverpool, pitting them with Spanish side Sevilla, Russia’s Spartak Moscow and Slovenian minnows Maribor. It was in our hands, and we had to take the opportunity.
GROUP STAGE: PART 1
In typical Liverpool fashion, The Reds went 1-0 down to Sevilla at Anfield and we all feared the worst. Fortunately, Roberto Firmino equalised after good work from Alberto Moreno down the left and Mo Salah put Liverpool 2-1 up after his effort took a massive ricochet off a Sevilla player. The joy did not last forever as in the 72nd minute, Joaquim levelled for Los Rojiblancos to make it an underwhelming night for the boys in red.
The disappointment continued in Russia as a Fernando free kick got the better of Loris Karius and made a Rodgers 14/15 Europe campaign seem more and more likely but for Klopp’s men. Although, Philippe Coutinho has become a much better player since Rodgers left and he got the draw in Moscow, scoring an emphatic shot from close range.
A win in Slovenia was vital for Liverpool and they delivered. Firmino scored inside 4 minutes and Coutinho, Salah twice added before half time to put Liverpool in a healthy position. Firmino scored again before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got his first Liverpool goal and Trent Alexander-Arnold deflected strike resulted in a 7-0 thrashing of Maribor. A statement of intent, regardless of the opposition.
GROUP STAGE: PART 2
The return leg in Anfield provided less entertainment as Maribor channelled their inner Manchester United and parked the bus but the doors stayed closed for 49 minutes before Mo Salah flicked an Alexander-Arnold cross in. Emre Can and Daniel Sturridge added a second and third in a comfortable win on Merseyside.
Anger. Anger is the word that sums up this Sevilla match. Liverpool were in dreamland in Sevilla was they raced into a 3-0 lead in 30 minutes, Roberto Firmino scoring twice and Sadio Mane heading in. Liverpool then went on to somehow bottle a three goal lead. Wissam Ben Yedder rose highest to head in and nine minutes later he added a second from the penalty spot and the memes were being readied. The Sevilla comeback was complete when Guido Pizarro scored from a corner in the 93rd minute, showing Liverpool’s defensive issues needed addressing – not for the first time.
Back on home soil, Liverpool needed to win to be sure of finishing 1st in the group and under the lights at Anfield, The Reds put on a show. A penalty from captain on the night Philippe Coutinho settled the nerves before he added a calmly slotted second a Roberto Firmino a third. The 4th smashed in from Sadio Mane, number 5 by Coutinho’s deflected shot and the 6th courtesy of Sadio Mane once more. Mo Salah continued his scintillating form to add a 7th so Liverpool were through to the knockout stages.
Following the 2-0 defeat of Southampton, I fully expect Liverpool to advance to the quarter-final over Porto. Azuis e brancos recorded a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Chaves so, should be feeling confident but Liverpool should prove too much for them, especially if Salah and Firmino perform like they did on Sunday.