Sadio Mane class comes to fore in another famous Liverpool win in the Champions League

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Sadio Mane was the hero of the night.

Liverpool got another famous European win on Wednesday night as they rolled up to Bayern Munich‘s home stadium and walked away with a 3-1 win to advance to the Champions League quarter-finals.

The chief architect of the win was Sadio Mane, who scored a brilliant opening goal to put his side in control of the game and then rounded off the evening by heading the clincher.

Here’s a closer look at the Liverpool No10’s display.

KEY STATS

Goals – 2

Shots – 2

Dribbles – 5

Pass Accuracy – 73%

Key Passes – 1

Ball recoveries – 6

30-SECOND REPORT

Mane has been in a rich vein of form and it showed the way he scored his first goal, making the charging Manuel Neuer look foolish as he turned the Bayern goalkeeper with ease before clipping in a delightful finish.

He was involved in a few strong challenges in midfield, perhaps getting lucky to not receive a booking but showing the commitment and energy to help his side protect their away goal. Then he rounded off a great night with his second goal.

GOT RIGHT

Movement in attack

Mane kept timing his runs to perfection. His first goal came about because of a sublime run behind Bayern’s back line, the second down to excellent movement, and there were more moments where his runs bought him space in attack.

Finishing

That opening goal was superb. The imagination and awareness to realize the chip was not only on but arguably the best option, and the ability to pull it off, were a mark of true class. And the diving header for his second wasn’t shabby, either.

GOT WRONG

Tackling

Perhaps as a result of how committed he was to the press, Mane was guilty of a few overzealous tackles, and he could easily have been booked more than once. Though it didn’t end up causing Liverpool any problems on the night, in another game that sort of play could end up leaving his side a man down, and shorn of a player who, on form, has been their best attacking player this season.

VERDICT

Away from home against one of Europe’s traditional powerhouses, though Liverpool qualify for that category themselves, Mane showed just how good he can be. His first goal was brilliant, a display of exquisite skill and execution.

He should have had a hat-trick, as Mohamed Salah rather selfishly went for goal when Mane was free for a tap-in – though the Egyptian’s wonderful assist for Mane’s second no doubt made up for that. But no bother. Mane’s put his side into the Champions League’s last-eight.

RATING – 9/10

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Talking points as Barcelona storm past Lyon but mid-game wobble is a concern

Andy West 14/03/2019
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The 5-1 scoreline would make you think that Barcelona breezed through with a comfortable thrashing of hapless Lyon on Wednesday night, but that is a very misleading picture from an eventful night at the Camp Nou.

True, Barca started and finished strong and in the end they had too much for the French side, but the middle phase of the game was a completely different matter as Lyon pulled back to 2-1 and regularly threatened to find an equaliser which could have sent them through.

Let’s pick the pieces out of a night which showed plenty of promise for Barca – but which should also serve as a serious warning.

Barca sparkle…but then suffer

For the opening half hour, Barca were irresistible. They played with great intensity and focus, pushing Lyon onto the back foot with a powerful and composed performance, maintaining a high tempo both with and without the ball and deservedly moving into a two-goal lead.

Then…they stopped. The final stages of the first half saw the home side lapse into coasting mode, lacking their previous seriousness and seeming to think they could stroll through the remainder of the game with a series of fancy flicks and tricks.

They were very wrong. Lyon took advantage of Barca’s relaxation to seize the initiative, finishing the first half strongly and starting the second in the same way. It was no surprise when they pulled back a goal through Lucas Tousart, and suddenly the tie was on a knife-edge.

In the end the hosts prevailed after Messi conjured a superb second goal to restore the two-goal cushion and then teed up Gerard Pique and Ousmane Dembele to add another couple of goals and some gloss to the scoreline, but they should not allow themselves to be deceived by the eventually comfortable winning margin. For around half an hour they were second best by a long way and they could have easily been punished. From now on, only maximum focus will do – all the time.

Coutinho flatters to deceive

Barca boss Ernesto Valverde was without one key player as Dembele was restricted to the bench with a hamstring injury, and he opted to brush aside the wishes of many fans and pundits by keeping faith with out-of-form Philippe Coutinho.

The Brazilian international has desperately struggled this season, but Valverde has been determined to stick with his costly recruit despite also having the option of turning to battle-hardened Arturo Vidal, rising star Carles Alena or hard-working winger Malcom.

Finally, though, Coutinho justified the faith of his manager by delivering a livewire first-half performance which was by far his best for a long time. He was bright from the opening whistle, playing a central role in dangerous attacks on three occasions in the opening seven minutes. And although it was a simple tap-in following fabulous work from Luis Suarez, getting his name on the scoresheet will have been a welcome boost to Coutinho’s confidence.

However, he then faded dramatically as Barca lost control of the game. Suddenly, he reverted to the hesitant and clumsy player who has prompted great frustration throughout the majority of the season, and in the end it was quite a relief when he was replaced by Dembele. So although he took a couple of big steps in the right direction, they were followed by one significant step backwards…and the doubts remain.

Sympathy for Lyon’s Lopes

Lyon’s exit drew particular sympathy for their goalkeeper Anthony Lopes, who was forced off through injury midway through the opening half after coming off worse for wear in a collision with Coutinho as he made a brave save at the Brazilian’s feet.

Lopes received lengthy treatment and it seemed inevitable that he would have to be replaced straight away, but he battled stoically back to his feet and was determined to continue, despite looking extremely groggy to say the least.

A few minutes later he was beaten by the second goal – which no keeper would have been able to prevent – and Lyon boss Bruno Genesio, probably later than he should, decided to take no further chances with his keeper’s health and introduced substitute keeper Mathieu Gorgelin. Lopes was reduced to tears as he left the field to heartfelt hugs from his team-mates and warm applause from the Barca crowd.

And the admiration he elicited was also spread more widely across his talented team-mates, many of whom showed they could have big futures ahead of them. Fast and powerful striker Moussa Dembele and classy midfielder Tanguy Ndombele look particularly bright prospects, and it would be no surprise to see them feature in big-money summer transfers.

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Bayern Munich 1-3 Liverpool: Ratings as Sadio Mane delivers and Virgil van Dijk is imperial

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Outstanding Liverpool roared into the Champions League quarter-finals with a mature 3-1 away victory at fellow heavyweights Bayern Munich.

The first goal of a tense tie came before half time at Allianz Arena as Senegal forward Sadio Mane delightfully punished Germany No1 Manuel Neuer’s impetuous charge and slotted into an open goal. The score was levelled on the night, however, soon after when Cameroon defender Joel Matip sliced into his own net.

Last season’s beaten finalists were then imperious after the break and gained double reward. Netherlands centre-back Virgil van Dijk produced a towering header on 69 minutes and Mane nodded in Egypt forward Mohamed Salah’s enticing cross soon after to emphatically kill the two-legged contest.

Here are the Reds player ratings:

LIVERPOOL (4-3-3)

Alisson 6: Brazil No1 would have been surprised by how little he had to do. Faced two shots on target.

Trent Alexander-Arnold 7: Pinged several delightful cross-field balls. Faced down Ribery and Coman. What a prospect.

Joel Matip 5: Accident waiting to happen. Darts up field must stop. Scored own goal he had threatened in first leg.

Virgil van Dijk 8: Another world-class display. Quietened Lewandowski and headed in fourth goal of 2018/19.

Andrew Robertson 7: Gnabry threatened to have his number again, but fine recovery spoke volumes. Banned for next game, though.

Georginio Wijnaldum 6: Netherlands international kept it simple and this is exactly what Liverpool needed on night.

Jordan Henderson 5: Man who was selected ahead of Fabinho made just seven touches before injury struck him down.

James Milner 7: Solid job from Liverpool’s veteran midfielder. Always an available option on the left flank.

Mohamed Salah 7: Mixed bag. Made up for egregious earlier greed by producing perfect centre for Mane’s header.

Roberto Firmino 6: Ex-Wolfsburg forward ran himself into the ground, at detriment of attacking ambitions.

Sadio Mane 9: Utterly brilliant. Punished Neuer and Hummels to become Liverpool’s all-time away scorer in UCL with seven goals.

SUBSTITUTES

Fabinho 7: Liverpool fans got their wish earlier than expected as injury forced his 13th-minute arrival. Consummate run-out followed.

Divock Origi N/A: Ex-Wolfsburg loanee was involved in build-up for Mane’s second on night.

Adam Lallana N/A: Valuable minutes on clock for recovering injury victim.

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