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Liverpool Rapes Maribor 7-0 Away From Home

For centuries, the
area around Stadion Ljudski vrt was used as a burial ground but, on Tuesday, it
represented Liverpool’s attacking rebirth as they exorcised the ghosts of
misses past.
Having registered 29
more shots than Sevilla and Spartak Moscow in their opening Champions League
games only to infuriatingly draw both, a first Group E win arrived at Maribor
wrapped in swagger and authority.

Jurgen Klopp’s side
had been stuck in a cycle of creating much but converting little, leading to
weeks of frustration, what ifs, and calls for the club to recruit a genuine
No.9.
Against the Slovenian
champions, the man wearing that shirt swatted away such shouts with a
performance packed with verve, characteristic intelligence and a ruthless edge.
Mohamed Salah, his
partner in torturing Maribor’s rearguard, was equally relentless in ensuring
this was the night it finally went ‘click, click, bang!’ in the final third for
Liverpool.
The pair shared a
laugh as they both pounced for the club’s fourth goal of the evening, but there
will also have been a great sense of relief too, given both have been guilty of
wasting good opportunities recently.
Klopp had been
convinced that the displays he witnessed during a run of just one victory in
eight across all competitions meant that the Merseysiders would soon see reward
for what they’d been “investing” in the fixtures.
Robbie Fowler had predicted
as much too, telling Goal: “Going forward, the finishing hasn’t been what the
club would’ve liked, but I’d be way more concerned if they weren’t creating
chances because that tells me a lot more.
“Eventually, it will
click for Liverpool and they will be converting more. It will definitely turn
and a few goals will be struck against an opponent because there’s definitely
the players capable of doing that and the qualities of pace, guile and
intelligence.”
That happened here in
the 12,702-seater arena, where the noise from the home ultras – Viole Maribor –
and those swirling scarves in the away end was incessant.
By the 19th minute,
the Reds were already 3-0 to the good before adding another ahead of the
interval to become the first English club to score that many away from home in
the tournament.
The first was created
by Salah’s pace and persistence as he Marko Suler to a loose ball and sped
into the box before supplying Firmino, who sidefooted in.
The pair combined
again with the international being fed by the Brazilian and then sliding
a pass through to James Milner, who was marking his first Champions League
start of the season. The midfielder crossed towards Philippe Coutinho, who
didn’t need to take a touch to smash in from 15 yards.
It was the fourth
consecutive game on the road the playmaker has scored in, rendering him the
only player to achieve that feat for Liverpool since Steven Gerrard in March
2014.
The Firmino-Salah
combination struck again with the former turning provider after winning
possession and playing in the winger. He closed down goalkeeper Jasmin
Handanovic and curved the ball around him and in with his left foot.
Coutinho then slipped
in Alberto Moreno and his low cross was attacked by Liverpool’s livewires-in-chief,
with Salah getting a touch before Firmino for the fourth.
The 26-year-old
wouldn’t be denied his second of the night, though, heading in Coutinho’s
free-kick on 54 minutes to exacerbate Maribor’s nightmare.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
opened his account for the club, after Daniel Sturridge unselfishly played him
in, before Trent Alexander-Arnold’s effort from distance hit the arm of a
sliding defender and flew past a wrong-footed Handanovic and into the net to
make it 7-0 and a milestone as the biggest margin of victory for an English
side away from home in Europe.
Naturally, a triumph
like this will be marked by comments such as ‘it’s only Maribor’, but it
shouldn’t be forgotten that in their previous home match against a Premier
League outfit on the continent, the Vijolice held Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea to a
1-1 draw in 2014-15.
In fact, the hosts
offered a reminder of their unbeaten run against clubs from England on Monday
night, but Liverpool never allowed them to exude confidence once the encounter
kicked off.
It was imperative that
Klopp’s charges reversed their miserable trend in front of goal, while ensuring
they didn’t let in any again at the other end.
To do it in such an
assertive manner in an away Champions League tie sans Sadio Mane while Adam
Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne are still unavailable is deserving of plenty of
credit regardless of the name of the opposition.
“We scored the
first goal from a pressing situation and a few other goals were after a
counter-pressing situation, so it helped a lot,” Klopp explained
post-match.
“Then, how we
finished these situations were also good. A lot in this season already [we have
been] too alone in the box to make a cross or a pass, but were no relaxed
enough to play the right pass. Tonight it was different. Always when we went
let them play, they played immediately and were around our 18-yard box and that
only showed how good they could be.
“But we never
gave up in this game, especially in the second half. It was good – all-round a
really, really good performance otherwise you cannot win 7-0 so we are really
happy about that.
“I think, really,
the boys deserved that because they really kept on going. It’s just good to
work together but the only problem is that you always have to explain why you
didn’t win. It’s probably not the most difficult thing to explain, especially
after our games because you see we create the chances but we did not use them.
That’s not enough for you, how you know, and then you put the finger on all the
other problem we sometimes had.”
The challenge for
Liverpool is to further augment this triumph by making sure it is only the
start of their turnaround and not a rare occurence of being clinical when it
counts. 
“We try to use
the result now, but the next game is against Tottenham so it’s pretty likely it
will not be a similar result,” Klopp added.

“But no problem,
we have four or five days to recover and prepare for the game, so that’s good
and we are already looking forward to it.”

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