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Salzburg 0-2 Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp’s side avoid early exit as Naby Keita header and Mo Salah brilliant finish seal last-16 qualification

Liverpool have the chance to defend their trophy as they go into the draw for the last 16 as winners of Group C.

Their attention now turns back to the Premier League when they face Watford on Saturday as their busy fixture list continue.

Salzburg finish third in the group after failing to win today, so they go into the draw for the Europa League knockout stages.

Two goals in 100 seconds secure a 2-0 win for Liverpool over Salzburg. There wasn’t a lot that separated the teams at half-time, with Alisson making a brilliant double save and Stankovic denying Mane and Keita to keep it at 0-0.

In the second half, Keita was unmarked as he headed the ball into the back of an empty net and Salah doubled the lead just over a minute later.

It was an excellent strike from him as he curled it in from a tight angle just outside the box on the right wing.

At least by winning here, Liverpool know they have avoided Paris St Germain, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

MATCH FACTS AND STATS

Red Bull Salzburg: Stankovic, Nissen, Onguene, Wober, Ulmer, Junuzovic (Daka 68), Szoboszlai (Ashimeru 90), Mwepu, Minamino, Hwang, Haaland (Okugawa 76)

Subs not used: Vallci, Prevljak, Ramalho, Coronel, Masaye

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren (Gomez 53), van Dijk, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Keita (Origi 87), Salah, Firmino (Milner 75), Mane

Subs not used: Adrian, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Shaqiri, Jones

Goalscorers: Keita 57, Salah 58

Booked: Mane

Referee: Danny Makkelie

The nature of an elite competition, however, means there are always traps – one being Real Madrid, who came second to PSG in Group A.

They won’t be much livelier than Salzburg, though. Jesse Marsch, their coach, has schooled a very promising team.

So credit where it’s due to Liverpool for beating them when it mattered, even if the rashness of goalkeeper Cican Stankovic cost his team, twice.

Stankovic has recently won his first Austrian cap and had performed well to this point, before two rushes of blood proved costly.

The first came after a ball from Andrew Robertson to Sadio Mane on the left. The Liverpool forward escaped the attention of defender Jerome Onguene and showed just enough of the ball for Stankovic to erroneously think he had a chance. He came charging out and Mane beat him, crossing for Naby Keita to head the ball into an unguarded net.

Having not scored since playing Huddersfield in April, Keita now has two in two games and is in his best run of form since arriving at Liverpool.

Klopp said he had no hesitation keeping him in the team after the win at Bournemouth, and he was vindicated Within a minute, victory was his.

Jordan Henderson played a fine ball over the top, Salah lost Onguene and Stankovic was on the charge again, left floundering by Salah’s quick feet and powerless as he nailed the tightest angle to put the ball in shallowly at the far post. Game over.

Liverpool were not exactly quick out of the blocks a year ago and that campaign seemed to work out all right, and it has been much the same this time around.

Far from flawless but, on nights like this, they still remain Europe’s team to beat.

ajay
Sports freak at your door step

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