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Dublin: 8 °C Sunday 26 January, 2020


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LIVERPOOL HAVEN’T EXACTLY brought their imperious Premier League form to Europe this season, and thus have a bit of work to do in Austria tonight.

They must avoid defeat against RB Salzburg tonight to progress to the last-16, a task made trickier by teenage sensation Erling Haaland, who has thus far scored just the eight Champions League goals so far this season.

Salzburg, meanwhile, must win to qualify.

Liverpool also have a pretty poor record away from home in the group stages of this competition. Although they were comfortable winners away to Genk earlier in this year’s campaign, they lost in Naples in the group’s opening game and lost all three of their group games away from Anfield last season.

So can they get the job done tonight, or is an enormous shock lurking in wait for us all?

Follow our live coverage here, with kick-off at 5.55pm.

Team news follows next…

Team News

Red Bull Salzburg

Haaland, a substitute in the earlier game at Anfield, starts. 


Following the rotation of the last couple of games, Klopp reverts to what is probably his strongest available team, allowing for the absences of Joel Matip and Fabinho.

Dejan Lovren is fit after being taken off against Bournemouth on Saturday, the front three reassemble, and Naby Keita is preferred to Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain and James Milner in midfield.


Liverpool must avoid defeat to qualify, unless Genk do them a massive, surprising favour and go and win away to Napoli. 

Salzburg have never beaten English opposition, but will have to do so tonight to qualify. They must also rely on Napoli failing to beat Genk. If Napoli do win that game, Salzburg must win by a better scoreline than the 4-3 defeat they suffered at Anfield on Matchday 2. 

Napoli/Genk kicks off at the same time as this game (5.55pm) so we will keep you up to date with the major events of that game too. 

Here’s the table: 






The last time Liverpool played a Champions League game in Austria, they had two fewer European Cups than they have now. Not that they were far from adding their fifth: they played Grazer AK in the qualifying rounds for the qualifying rounds for the season that ended in Istanbul. 

Having lost the first leg 1-0 at Anfield, Steven Gerrard scored twice in the return leg to seal qualification. 

Erling Braut Haaland, the teenager who has just the, um, 28 goals in 21 games this season. Eight of those have come in five Champions League games…and he didn’t even start the game at Anfield! 

soccer-cl-group-stage-day5-krc-genk-vs-salzburg Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Yellow Peril 

Two players will miss the opening leg of the last-16 tie if they are booked tonight: Andy Robertson and Salzburg right-back Rasmus Kristensen. 

Sadio Mane and Naby Keita both start for Liverpool tonight – can they return to haunt their former side?

imago-20190426 Source: Imago/PA Images

The teams are lining up for the anthem in a thronged arena. 

Reminder: Liverpool must avoid defeat to qualify. A win will see them through as group winners. 


We’re underway! 


Wow, 15 seconds on the clock and Salzburg find space to send Haaland through on goal. Van Dijk, however, recovers and dispossess him. 


And Van Dijk makes another critical tackle before the clock hits a minute; Hwang was one-on-one! 

Now Liverpool have a corner to defend..pretty rocky start for the Champions. 


Salzburg are all over Liverpool. Alisson is harried into a clumsy clearance, and the ball ends with Minamino driving the ball directly at him. 


Napoli are already ahead against Genk. No favours there, it seems. 


Chance for Salah! He controls a ball over the top from Lovren, but his shot is blocked by goalkeeper Stankovic! 


Salzburg make a hames of playing out from the back, and they give the ball right to Firmino on the edge of the box. He finds Mane, whose cross to the back post is slightly too far ahead of Alexander-Arnold, and Salzburg survive. 


Big save by Alisson! Some terrific link-up play by Salzburg in the box, and Alisson makes a double-save at close range from Hwang! 

At the other end, Mane curls a shot outside the box inches wide of the right-hand post. 

This game is totally bonkers. 


Hwang gets a run in behind Robertson, but Van Dijk puts the hammer down to come across and shunt him off the ball. 


Great Liverpool play ends with Robertson’s low cross hacked uncomfortably clear by defender Onguene. 


There’s a small bit more normality now, as Salzburg’s initially intense high press has slackened off a bit. Liverpool passing the ball about with a bit more comfort at the moment. 


It’s all Liverpool now, and Mane wins a free-kick on the left-flank. 


Salzburg deal with Robertson’s cross, and knock a ball forward for Haaland, who is chased by, em, Salah. Alisson ventures from his goal and heads it clear. 


Wijnaldum slips a ball through for Mane, whose shot is beaten away by Stankovic. Keita’s follow-up is blocked, and then Alexander-Arnold skims the crossbar with a volley. 


Salzburg break, and Hwang scuffs a shot on goal that would have gifted Haaland a tap-in but for the intervention of Alisson. 


Ulmer drives into the box for Salzburg having skipped by Alexander-Arnold too easily, but his cross his Lovren. This game is very open, and Liverpool certainly haven’t set up for the draw that will take them through. 


Haaland thunders beyond Dejan Lovren and sees a goal-bound shot blocked by Alisson! 


Salzburg are a brilliant watch. They are cutting through Liverpool at will so far, and Jurgen Klopp is pretty agitated on the touchline. 


Napoli are now 2-0 up against Genk. 


Van Dijk heads clear a Salzburg cross. They are in the ascendancy at the moment…


Last-ditch tackle by Robetson! Kieta and Van Dijk get in a muddle over possession, Salzburg pick it up, but the through-ball is cut out at the last second by Robertson. 



Good lord. Keita breaks, feeds an unmarked Salah in the box, but he screws his first-time shot four yards wide of the near post. 

How is this game still 0-0!? 


Salah wins a free-kick on the edge of the box, hauled down by Wober. 


Salah skies the free-kick over the crossbar. 


Liverpool sustain pressure after Salah intercepts a Ulmer clearance, but Keita’s shot is eventually blocked and cleared. 


Van Dijk does well to track a Hwang run and get the ball clear ahead of him, but Liverpool’s counter is thwarted by Henderson’s poor pass to Mane. 


Napoli are now 3-0 up against Genk, a Milik hat-trick. 


Gah, Haaland takes a heavy touch when a better one would have left him one-on-one with Alisson. 


Mwepu lets fly from 30 yards, but it’s right at Alisson. 


Liverpool get away with it. Haaland is played onside by Lovren, and as he sprints clear, he pushes the ball left to Minamino, who fizzes the ball just wide! 


Ah, VAR shows that Haaland was offside. 


Superb break by Liverpool, as Firmino feeds Salah, who slips a gorgeous pass in for Keita, but his shot is blocked by a splayed Stankovic!

Great move; big chance. 


HT: Salzburg 0-0 Liverpool 

Liverpool are halfway to the point they need to progress, but it’s decidedly uncomfortable. The game has been wildly open and Salzburg pose a considerable threat going forward. 

Liverpool have had – and fluffed – their chances, and they’ll need to take one to avoid an extremely nervy finale. 

Back in a few. 


Peeeeep! We’re back underway! 


Robertson is tempted into a shot from distance. It flies harmlessly wide. 


Good grief, Salah misses another sitter! 

Mane slides through a pass for Salah, but he arrives onto it and skies it over the bar from six yards. 

This blog is now contractually obliged to ask: Will Liverpool come to regret these missed chances? 


Salah can’t believe it. Outrageous pass by Firmino sends him through, but as Salah tries to round the ‘keeper, Stankovic takes it from his toe! 

Another mega chance. 


BIG chance Haaland! 

A diagonal ball over the top sticks to his first touch, but he fires into the side-netting at the near post rather than going across Alisson! 


Mane has been largely brutalised in this game so far, and when the latest heavy tackle goes unpunished, his angry reaction to the referee earns him a booking. 

More bad news for Liverpool – Dejan Lovren has hurt his knee and is limping off, Joe Gomez comes on in his place. 


Liverpool break again, but Kristensen does really well to stand up to Mane in the box and eventually passes the test. 


GOAL! Salzburg 0-1 Liverpool (Keita)

There’s the goal at last! Alexander-Arnold pings the ball across for Robertson who releases Mane down the left. The goalkeeper bewilderingly rushes out to the edge of the box to Mane, who instead dinks the ball back to the edge of the six-yard box to Keita, who nods it in! 


GOAL! Salzburg 0-2 Liverpool (Salah)

Salah, having missed a string of sitters, manages to score his most difficult chance of the night. 

He takes the ball over the top – again the ‘keeper rushes out – he rounds him and somehow squeezes the ball outside the near post and inside the far post with his weaker foot. 



After all of that discomfort, Liverpool now look like they are heading through as group winners. 


Mane skips away from a tackle, is kicked, and wins a free-kick. 


Alexander-Arnold tries to catch Stankovic out by curling the ball to the near post, but the ball hits the side netting. 


Hwang stings a shot right at Alisson. They haven’t worked him well enough thus far. 


Change for Salzburg: Patson Daka comes on for Zlakto Junuzovic. Overshadowed by Haaland this season, he has scored 16 goals so far this season. 


Ball over the top finds Haaland, but his skews a poor cross over the crossbar.



Liverpool have stuck a pin in the atmosphere, and it’s pretty deflated at the moment. Salzburg not offering much at the moment…


..until now! Haaland floats a ball to the back post for Minamino, whose shot is blocked by Robertson and behind for a corner. 


And the corner is much too close to Alisson. James Milner coming on for Liverpool. 


Firmino is released along the endline, and tries to poke the ball in at the near post rather than pull the ball back. 

That’s it for him tonight, Milner comes on. 

Haaland is off too, and is replaced by Masaya Okugawa. 


Dries Mertens puts Napoli 4-0 up, and it looks like they are going through as runners-up. 


Salah tears through one-on-one, but going away from goal he stops in his tracks, cuts back on his left foot, and fires a shot too close to Stankovic. 


Liverpool are utterly in control now. Keita tries to thread a ball in for Salah, but Wober sticks out a leg and puts in behind for a corner. 


Corner is short, Alexander-Arnold whips a ball in for Mane, who contorts himself for a header that goes well wide. 


Mane is sent through, and passes it to Salah, who gives it back only to see Mane’s shot beaten away by Stankovic. He fumbles a rebound collected by Salah, but Salzburg escape. 

They are done here, and Liverpool are toying with them. 


Milner overcooks a cross to Mane at the back post, and another chance for Liverpool is wasted. 

Here comes Divock Origi. 


Origi replaces Naby Keita. 


Oh my, a big chance wasted by Mane. Liverpool break, Henderson picks the ball on the right and crosses into the box, Salah leaves it to Mane, whose shot is deflected over the bar. 


Salah, in loads of room in the box, screws a shot haplessly wide. 


Two minutes added on. 

FT: Salzburg 0-2 Liverpool

An exceptionally dominant second half sees Liverpool ease forth into the last-16. They scored two – they could have had six – but progress as group winners nonetheless. 

They will take considerable stopping from here. Salzburg, meanwhile, should be an intriguing prospect in the Europa League. 

Thanks for following…bye! 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney


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