Liverpool hit three early goals to comfortably see off Hoffenheim and claim a place in the Champions League group stages.
Liverpool 4-2 Hoffenheim
Liverpool progess 6-3 on aggregate
Champions League Play-Off Second Leg, Anfield
August 23, 2017
Can 10′ (assist – Mane)
Salah 18′ (assist – Wijnaldum)
Can 21′ (assist – Firmino)
Firmino 63′ (assist – Henderson)
The first opportunity of the game arrived for Liverpool when Alberto Moreno was brought down on the edge of the box inside two minutes. The resulting free-kick saw supporters pondering a repeat of Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s first-leg heroics, but this time he hit the wall.
There was an even better chance two minutes later as Sadio Mane raced clear but he couldn’t slot his shot past the keeper.
Liverpool put plenty of pressure on early on and the breakthrough arrived in the 10th minute, with Mane hack-heeling for Emre Can just inside the box and the German’s shot deflected past the keeper for 1-0.
The third goal was the best of the bunch, a lovely move saw Mane free down the left, who played in Firmino, whose back post cross was side footed home by Can for 3-0 – the German’s first brace of his career.
Liverpool were absolutely dominant, playing some beautiful one-touch football, combining expertly in midfield and attack.
Hoffenheim though created chances of their own, and got one back in the 29th minute, Uth providing a smart finish past Mignolet after being played in down Liverpool’s left side again.
Can had a chane for his hat-trick shortly before half-time after more smart play in midfield saw Mane again creating the chance on the left, but this time Can’s effort wasn’t on target.
- Klopp names same team as first leg
- Can’s opener early on calms the nerves
- Reds 3-0 inside 21 minutes
The second half saw more chances for Liverpool. Wijnaldum should have scored when in one-on-one but he hit it at the keeper. The ref somehow gave a goal kick but Wijnaldum should have done better regardless.
The Dutchman had another chance after some superb work from Alexander-Arnold down the right, but his near-post show was well saved.
Hoffenheim added a consolation in the 79th minute, Wagner heading home quite easily from a cross from the Liverpool right.
Ultimately, this match summed up Liverpool – sensational at times when their attack is fluid and firing, but always suspect in defence.
The draw for the Champions League group stages takes place on Thursday, 5pm UK time.
TIA Man of the Match: Sadio Mane
Referee: Daniele Orsato
Next match: Arseanal (H) – Premier League – August 27