Liverpool’s second-half implosion was remedied by Mohamed Salah’s winner as the Reds went from cruising to losing in a madcap game against Red Bull Salzburg.
Strikes from Andy Robertson, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah had put the hosts 3-0 up by half-time, as they looked to forget their nightmare in Napoli two weeks prior.
But Salzburg roared back through Hwang Hee-Chan and Takumi Minamino either side of half-time, and teenage sensation Erling Braut Haaland came off the bench to level things up on the hour mark to silence Anfield.
However, Liverpool can never be counted out thanks to their heavyweight ammunition and it was Salah who landed the killer blow with 20 minutes to go to end a breathless game 4-3.
Here are our Liverpool ratings …
Adrian – Not at fault for the goals, a nervy moment when he lackadaisically passed out from the back and was nearly caught in possession. 5
Trent Alexander-Arnold – Much of Liverpool’s attacking play funnels through their full-backs and with 125 touches, Trent was the fulcrum. A couple of key defensive stops and another assist under his belt. 7
Joe Gomez – All over the shop. Drawn out of position for Salzburg’s first and flew recklessly into a challenge for the second. Then was nowhere near the cross that Haaland tapped in. Where is his pre-injury form? 3
Virgil Van Dijk – Looked bemused by his junior partner but has to take his fair share of the blame. Far too easily turned for Hwang’s goal – was probably wishing for the injured Joel Matip to materialise out of thin air. 4
Andy Robertson – You won’t see a left-back anywhere in the world making the type of instinctive run in the box that Robertson initiated for Liverpool’s superb second, combining with Alexander-Arnold. Was everywhere in attack, particularly in the first half. 8
Fabinho – Beautiful long ball presented Salah with a first-half chance the Egyptian really should have scored, but his harrying led to Mo’s eventual winner. A good game despite the eventual pandemonium. 7
Giorginio Wijnaldum – Bypassed continuously as Salzburg waltzed through Liverpool’s midfield at will in the second half. Substituted for Divock Origi 5
Jordan Henderson – His inaction in comparison to Fabinho was acute. Chasing shadows and was hauled straight off for James Milner after Haaland’s equaliser. 4
Sadio Mane – There’s magic in those feet of his. Operating on hyper-speed, with Firmino on the same wavelength, in the one-two that brought about his goal. Dangerous throughout 8
Roberto Firmino – Another ‘low-key’ special game from the Brazilian, his two assists for Mane and then Salah’s second proving once again that the Reds would find it hard to function without him. 8
Mohamed Salah – He scored the double – and the all-important winner – but he was clearly a notch or two below the impeccable standards Mane and Firmino were setting. Nicely taken goals, though could have had several more if not for wayward finishing. 7
James Milner (61′) – Liverpool were noticeably much steadier when the veteran midfielder came on 7
Divock Origi (63′) – Was thrown on as things got desperate, but an intervention wasn’t required from him in the end 5
Naby Keita – (90′) – N/A
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Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum insists last season’s incredible semi-final comeback against Barcelona has been consigned to the past as Anfield prepares for the return of Champions League football this week.
It is almost five months since Jurgen Klopp’s side stunned the favourites and most of the rest of Europe with a 4-0 second-leg win against the odds which set them up to win the trophy four weeks later.
While that night on Merseyside still remains a regular cause for celebration for fans even more than the subsequent victory over Tottenham in Madrid, Wijnaldum said it was merely now a distant a memory for the players.
“What happened in the past is always in the past,” said the Holland international, who scored twice in that game as the Reds overturned a 3-0 first-leg deficit from Barcelona.
“We created great memories for ourselves but it is not something we should think about.”
Wijnaldum was speaking ahead of Wednesday’s visit of Red Bull Salzburg, which will be the Reds’ first European outing at Anfield since that astonishing night against Barca.
He added: “Of course it gives us confidence if you are in a situation like that but it is a totally different Champions League campaign: different games, different situations, different teams.”
“We just have to make sure we are ready and not think about last season.
“That is a great memory but we have to look forward to making it even greater and reach the final again. Not looking back but looking forward.”
After defeat to Napoli in their opening game, continuing a trend from last season when they lost four of their six away matches, a win against Salzburg this week is imperative for the holders.
“It would be nice. We all know how Champions League nights are so we will look forward to that,” said Wijnaldum.
Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk has dismissed the five-point lead they hold over title rivals Manchester City as irrelevant at this stage of the season.
Jurgen Klopp’s side briefly saw their advantage extended to eight points after beating Sheffield United in the early kick-off but City came through a slightly-less exacting test against Everton in the evening to reduce the gap.
But even though Liverpool have a 100 per cent record from their opening seven matches Van Dijk stressed no-one inside the dressing room was giving it a second thought.
The Reds know from recent experience that the situation can change quickly. They had a seven-point lead over City before the two met at the Etihad Stadium on January 3, only to lose as Pep Guardiola’s side began their fightback.
“It’s far too early. We’re almost in October and the busy period will come,” said the Netherlands captain after Liverpool registered their 16th successive Premier League victory.
“There are still so many games left and the only thing we focus on is the game ahead of us. We don’t want to look at the others because there’s no point doing that.
“Everyone realises that as well because last season we saw how it turned quickly. We just want to focus on the game ahead of us.”
Victory at Bramall Lane also extended the club record for successive away wins to eight and they have not lost outside of Anfield in the league since that defeat at the Etihad almost 10 months ago, their best run since 1989.
But attention quickly turns to Wednesday’s visit of Red Bull Salzburg as Klopp’s side look to register their first Champions League win of the season after defeat in their opening game against Napoli.
“It’s the media who love statistics. The reality is we have nothing at the moment. We want to continue to do well and there’s still plenty of room for improvement,” added Van Dijk.
“We have to be confident; you have to think you’re going to win every game otherwise you might as well stay at home. We have the quality, we have the players.
“We’ll take this, recover and then prepare for Salzburg and that will be a tough game as well. We have to win every game, that’s how it is.”