Filed: Wednesday, October 24, 2018 at 21:54 UK
Last Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2018 at 21:54 UK
Mohamed Salah becomes the quickest player to reach 50 goals for Liverpool courtesy of a brace to help his side to a 4-0 win over Red Star Belgrade at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp was able to welcome Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane back into his starting lineup, and they joined their fellow attacker on the scoresheet with Firmino breaking the deadlock in the first half and Mane capping it off 10 minutes from time.
Mane also missed a penalty, but it did not prove costly as Liverpool cruised to a victory which takes them top of Group C courtesy of a 2-2 draw between Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli in the other game.
It was Saturday’s match-winner Salah who had the first chance of the match when he took Xherdan Shaqiri‘s lofted ball down before being thwarted by Milan Borjan in the Red Star goal when he only had the keeper to beat.
The visitors held their own for the most part in the opening 20 minutes, though, and could have broken the deadlock themselves after 18 minutes when Srdjan Babic took advantage of some statuesque marking to get on the end of a corner, only to fire his volley well over the crossbar.
Liverpool did grab the opener just two minutes later, though, with Shaqiri threading a pass through for Andrew Robertson, who in turn played a low pass into the box for Firmino. The Brazilian took his time over his finish and eventually fired a deflected effort past the keeper for his 13th Champions League goal – leaving him just one behind Ian Rush in the club’s history books.
It proved to be a pivotal moment in the match as a previously lacklustre Liverpool suddenly began to play with the same sort of confidence, fluidity and intensity that they showed so often en route to the final of the competition last season.
A second goal almost followed five minutes later when Alisson Becker, Robertson and Mane combined to pick out Salah in the middle, only for the Egyptian to scuff his finish on the volley.
Shaqiri was Liverpool’s standout player of the half and he drew a routine stop from the keeper with a curling effort before Robertson skewed a first-time shot wide when he should have done better having been set up by good work from Salah and Mane.
The second goal did arrive right on the stroke of half time, though, as Shaqiri skilfully cushioned Georginio Wijnaldum‘s pass into the path of Salah, who lashed his right-footed finish past the keeper at the near post for his first of the night.
The half-time scoreline reflected Liverpool’s dominance since opening the scoring, and they were in no mood to let up in the second half with Fabinho firing off target on his first Champions League start for the club to give an early reminder of the hosts’ intentions.
It took just five minutes of the second half for the Reds to effectively kill the game off, although their third goal was not short of controversy as Mane went down dramatically under the challenge of Filip Stojkovic to draw a belatedly-awarded penalty from the officials.
It was a soft one for the hosts, but it led to an historic moment as Salah drilled the spot kick straight down the middle to bring up his half-century from just 65 appearances for the club – smashing the previous record of Fernando Torres, who took 72 games to reach that tally.
More to follow.