James Milner needs to start and other things we learned as Liverpool thrash Maribor 7-0

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After their dour 0-0 draw with Manchester United extended their run to just one win in eight games, Liverpool needed a result that would stop the rot and silence the critics.

Nothing does that like a 7-0 win.

Maribor were the unfortunate victims as Liverpool got their first Champions League win of the season, having drawn their opening two fixtures. Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah both bagged a brace each and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got his first Liverpool goal, joining Philippe Coutinho and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the scoresheet to hand the Reds their biggest away win in the competition.

Here are three takeaways from Tuesday night’s game…

LIVERPOOL FINALLY LEARN TO TAKE THEIR CHANCES

Much has been made of Liverpool’s lack of clinical finishing during their indifferent run of form. Despite creating plenty of chances, Jurgen Klopp’s men were struggling to test the goalkeeper regardless of the opposition and thus, weren’t scoring enough even though they have one of the most potent attacks in England.

Maribor proved to be the perfect cure. Yes, they were never going to be the toughest of opponents but scoring seven goals is no mean feat, especially away from home. Klopp will hope his side carries this form into their upcoming league fixtures.

Liverpool's attack rediscovered their ruthlessness.

Liverpool’s attack rediscovered their ruthlessness.

MILNER SHOULD BE TOP OF THE PECKING ORDER

It’s a mystery as to why James Milner doesn’t start more often for Liverpool. Jordan Henderson is Klopp’s trusted lieutenant on the pitch, sure, but he doesn’t have the range, vision, or general all-around ability that Milner does. And even if Klopp is loathe to drop Henderson, for whatever reason – it’s quite likely that Tuesday night was a case of the Englishman being rested, not dropped – there’s no reason Milner shouldn’t get a starting berth ahead of the inconsistent Emre Can.

Milner made his case on Tuesday, driving his team forward with his running and passing. Will it be enough to keep him in the starting XI against Spurs on Saturday?

is Milner Liverpool's best midfielder?

is Milner Liverpool’s best midfielder?

DEFENSIVE FRAILTIES STILL REMAIN

Not that it would have made much of a difference to the final scoreline, given that Liverpool were already 4-0 up at the time, but Maribor should have had at least one goal – and it would have been yet another embarrassing one for Liverpool to concede.

Centre-back Marko Suler had a free header at the back post from a free kick – sound familiar? – only to head wastefully wide, but the moment showed that Liverpool are always vulnerable. They’re not always going to score seven goals – at what point does Klopp say enough is enough?

Liverpool just about escaped with a clean sheet against Mirabor.

Liverpool just about escaped with a clean sheet against Maribor.

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Player ratings and round-up as Liverpool trounce Maribor 7-0 in the Champions League

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Liverpool finally found their form in front of goal to score seven in a record-breaking European away victory against hapless Maribor and finally kick-start their Champions League campaign.

The Reds’ front three of Mohamed Salah (two), Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho got the goals as they put their opponents to the sword in the first half with Firmino adding a fifth shortly after the break and deadline-day signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scoring his first for the club late on followed by Trent Alexander-Arnold’s added-time effort.

Their previous best away from home in Europe had been 5-0 – against Reykjavik in 1964, Crusaders in 1976 and Haka in 2001 – but the Slovenians made that record easy to beat.

Tweet of the match

Star man

Mohamed Salah: Scored two goals – and it could have been more – with one assist and a constant threat down the right with his pace and direct running.

Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah

Moment of the match

Philippe Coutinho’s cushioned volley for Liverpool’s second. A real touch of class.

Data point

Goals from Salah (two), Firmino and Philippe Coutinho saw Liverpool become the first English club to score four goals in the first half of an away fixture in the Champions League. Another goal for Firmino meant Liverpool also registered five away from home in the competition for the first time.

Player ratings

Maribor

Jasmin Handanovic: 5
Martin Milec: 4
Aleksander Rajcevic: 4
Marko Suler: 3
Mitja Viler: 3
Marwan Kabha: 4
Blaz Vrhovec: 4
Martin Kramaric: 4
Valon Ahmedi: 5
Damjan Bohar: 5
Marcos Tavares: 4

Substitutes

Aleks Pihler (on for Ahmedi, 58): 5
Dino Hotic (on for Kramaric, 58): 5
Jasmin Mesanovic (on for Bohar, 80): 4

Liverpool

Loris Karius: 6
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 7
Joel Matip: 7
Dejan Lovren: 6
Alberto Moreno: 7
James Milner: 8
Georginio Wijnaldum: 7
Emre Can: 7
Mohamed Salah: 8
Roberto Firmino: 7
Philippe Coutinho: 8

Substitutes

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (on for Salah, 57): 7
Daniel Sturridge (on for Firmino, 67): 7
Dominic Solanke (on for Wijnaldum, 76): 6

Who’s up next?

Tottenham v Liverpool (Premier League, Sunday October 22)

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Spotlight on Harry Kane as Tottenham draw 1-1 with Real Madrid in the Champions League

Jim van Wijk 18/10/2017
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England forward Harry Kane helped Tottenham earn a battling 1-1 draw in their Champions League Group H clash against Real Madrid.

Here’s a look at the impact of the in-form striker at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

BODY LANGUAGE

The last time Spurs played at the Bernabeu during April 2011, Kane was on the bench for Leyton Orient against Plymouth. There was, though, no chance of the 24-year-old being swept up his own hype as he now graced one of Europe’s finest stages and was hailed in the pre-match build up by Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane as the ”complete player”.

Kane looked fully focused as the teams observed a minute’s silence in memory of those impacted by wildfires in Galicia ahead of kick-off. Once the action got under way, there was little early opportunity for the Spurs man to stretch the Madrid defence as the home side went on the offensive.

Kane, though, continued his high work-rate and was soon causing problems when a downward header from a corner was pushed over, before then taking the plaudits as his movement helped create the opening goal just before the half-hour. After being denied a potential winner by another great save from Madrid keeper Keylor Navas with 20 minutes left, Kane did not allow his head to drop and led the line with renewed determination.

Harry Kane (R)

Harry Kane (R)

LINK-UP PLAY

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino opted for an attacking line-up when deploying Fernando Llorente up front alongside Kane. Both men put in the required shift as Spurs recovered from a slow start to cause Real Madrid some concern in and around their own penalty area.

It was Kane’s commanding presence at the near post which drew Real defender Raphael Varane in too close as Serge Aurier whipped the ball across from the right which broke the deadlock after 28 minutes. Again, the England striker had his positioning spot on late in the second half when drifting into space at the edge of the box and picked out by Llorente, but was once more denied by a fine save by Navas.

Harry Kane (L)

Harry Kane (L)

FINISHING

Kane is currently regarded as one of the deadliest finishers in Europe after scoring 15 goals in his last 11 games. The Englishman had been unfortunate not to swiftly add another to that impressive tally after 18 minutes when a powerful header from a corner was tipped over at point-blank range by Navas.

Kane was then alert at the near post to meet a low cross from Aurier, with his flick goalwards ricocheting in off Varane to put Spurs ahead. Later in the second half, Kane looked to have done everything right when picked out on the overlap in the left side of the Madrid box with 20 minutes left – only for his low, curling shot to be pushed around the far post by Navas at full stretch.

Harry Kane's shot pushed wide

Harry Kane’s shot pushed wide

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