Europe provides sanctum as Liverpool march on in the Champions League
Liverpool, a team that performs like world-beaters in Europe but have meekly become a shadow of themselves, while playing at home in England.
A rather bemusing observation, isn’t it?
One would expect a team to be masters of their own terrain but for the Reds, it’s quite the opposite. Anfield of late has been anything but conducive for Liverpool, with six successive defeats in the Premier League.
Having said this, I for one was very glad that owing to the pandemic restrictions, the reverse fixture of Liverpool and RB Leipzig was held at the same venue as the first leg, Puskas Arena in Budapest and not Anfield.
The result, the same as the first leg! Liverpool 2 – 0 RB Leipzig. Reds 4-0 victors on aggregate and quarterfinalists yet again in Europe’s most prestigious competition.
With this win, The Merseyside Club have won 12 out of the 13 two-legged fixtures in all European competitions under Jurgen Klopp, the only failure being last year against Atletico de Madrid, in the Champions League round of 16.
Certainly, a statistic with much laud for the German and his team when it comes to European football.
So without further ado, let’s dive into the how the Reds got the better of the second-best team in Germany on a second successive occasion last night:
A first 45 of equal opportunity
The Red Bulls started the game with much hunger to avenge the first leg defeat and created an opportunity immediately in the 10th minute. Leipzig’s striker Poulsen fired a shot low and hard at goal, but Liverpool keeper Alisson made a vital save.
Liverpool on their own accord almost went one to the good in the 24th minute. Thiago released a mouth-watering pass to Mohamed Salah, who had only the keeper to beat in the box but hammered a shot straight at Gulasci, as the Hungarian did well to keep the ball out.
Sadio Mane went for a header on the rebound but failed to connect with his effort.
The Reds were rather unlucky not to be one up.
In the 32nd minute, Leipzig had another chance to score with Forsberg’s left-foot strike going inches wide of the post. This was after Leipzig’s Swedish winger was fed by a brilliant interplay between Olmo and Nkunku en route taking a deflection of Reds defender Ozan Kabak.
The Merseyside Club almost drew first blood once again in injury time, when their Portuguese sensation Diogo Jotta missed a sitter. He hit the ball into the side netting after Salah did well to wrestle the ball in the D and present the young Reds striker with the opportunity through a deflection of a Red Bull defender.
As the first 45 ended, the game was evenly poised with anyone’s to call.
Salah and Mane prove their worth, yet again!
As was the case in the first leg, the experienced duo of Salah and Mane showed how vital they are for Liverpool yet again.
Having said this, before the duo could stamp their authority, the second half gave yet another opportunity to Leipzig when in the 65th minute, striker Sorloth’s header clattered off the bar and Olmo drilled the rebound above the post.
The German club certainly seemed in their stride.
The hurrah though would happen at the opposite end as Liverpool would finally put one on the board. In the 70th minute, Diogo Jotta cut a beautiful offload back to Mohamed Salah and the Egyptian made no mistake in finding the back of the net.
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Minutes later, Sadio Mane also joined the party as he converted a sumptuous pass from Divock Origi to put the Reds 2-0 up.
As the referee called time, the smile was back on Jurgen Klopp’s face as his team had done well to win the second leg amid with much ease marching into the quarters.
Next up, who do the Reds face in the last eight?
We will know as the quarter and semi-final draw happens on 19th March on the road to the final in Istanbul on May 29th.
Can the European vibe rub off on Liverpool’s English endeavour?
Liverpool at present seem all but lost in their Premier League exploits and one certainly hopes they can take the European confidence to best salvage their position currently in English football.
What gives me hope though, is that if the Reds don’t finish in the top 4 in the Premier League, which could be more than a realistic possibility as things stand, their form in Europe has been so encouraging that winning this year’s Champions League could well be in their grasp and as a result the Reds might still be in Europe’s topflight next season.
So, with Wolves next in the League, let’s see which Liverpool shows up, the soaring European one or the deflated English one?
Until then, as always, ‘Unity is strength – Let’s Go Reds – You’ll Never Walk Alone!’
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