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Liverpool 5-2 Roma: Salah stuns old side as Reds waltz to strong first-leg lead

Liverpool were rocked by a late rally but left Anfield in emphatic spirits after recording a 5-2 win over Roma in the Champions League semi-finals.

Liverpool 5-2 AS Roma

Champions League Semi-Final First Leg, Anfield
April 24, 2018


Salah 36′ (assist – Firmino)
Salah 45′ (assist – Firmino)
Mane 56′ (assist – Salah)
Firmino 61′ (assist – Salah)
Firmino 69′ (assist – Milner)
Dzeko 81′ (assist – Nainggolan)
Perotti pen 85′ (assist – Nainggolan)

The Reds returned to Anfield for their biggest game of the season so far, as Serie A contenders Roma arrived on Merseyside for the first leg of their last-four tie.

After making five changes for Saturday’s 2-2 draw at West Brom, Jurgen Klopp restored his strongest starting lineup for Europe, including the returning Roberto Firmino up front.

Firmino joined ex-Roma man Mohamed Salah, making his first appearance since being named PFA Player of the Year on Sunday, with the Egyptian’s reunion proving the major talking point in the buildup.

Despite blowing after both Porto and Man City in the last 16 and quarter-finals respectively, the pressure was on for Liverpool against a tough Rome outfit.

But in a cauldron of noise at Anfield, the Reds made a mockery of pre-match expectations.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, April 24, 2018: Liverpool's goalkeeper Loris Karius during the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 1st Leg match between Liverpool FC and AS Roma at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

  • Klopp makes 5 changes from weekend draw at West Brom
  • Oxlade-Chamberlain forced off with worrying knee injury
  • Salah stuns Alisson with incredible brace before half-time
  • Egyptian King turns provider for Mane and Firmino
  • Firmino nets again before Dzeko and Perotti score away goals

It was end-to-end stuff from kickoff, with Kevin Strootman drawing a save from Loris Karius in the second minute before Salah surged up the other end to test Alisson with a left-footed curler.

With Roma’s 3-4-3 featuring a very high defensive line, Firmino was threaded through for a push to the byline soon after, but the Brazilian’s cutback trickled agonisingly across the face of goal.

Liverpool’s intense start drew an early casualty as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, after a brilliant challenge on Aleksandar Kolarov, was forced off to be replaced by Georginio Wijnaldum.

Kolarov struck the crossbar with a swerving long-range effort shortly after Karius’ limp save, with the Reds able to turn the tide with a series of promising bursts forward.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, April 24, 2018: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the first goal during the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 1st Leg match between Liverpool FC and AS Roma at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sadio Mane had a golden opportunity after burning Federico Fazio for pace on the break, but the winger was unable to test Alisson, before then hitting it high and wide from inside the box 49 seconds later.

The Senegalese then had the ball in the back of the net on 34 minutes as he stabbed home Andy Robertson‘s cross, but was left frustrated by an offside flag.

Two minutes later, though, Salah showed him how its done, cutting inside from the left and sending a sensational strike past Alisson to put the hosts 1-0 up.

Dejan Lovren hit the woodwork as the Reds kept up the intensity, and again Salah followed it up with a moment of brilliance as he dinked it over the Roma No. 1 to seal a two-goal lead heading into the break.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, April 24, 2018: Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring the third goal with team-mate captain Jordan Henderson during the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 1st Leg match between Liverpool FC and AS Roma at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Little changed for Roma despite the introduction of Patrick Schick, and their dreadful defence allowed Salah through again before the hour mark, with the Egyptian King laying it on for Mane and 3-0.

Salah was provider once again just five minutes later, latching onto Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s flick to surge into the box and play in Firmino for a tap-in from two yards out.

The No. 9 then levelled Salah’s goal tally with a brilliant header from a James Milner corner, as Roma continued to crumble with no answer from Eusebio Di Francesco.

Almost adding insult to injury, Klopp saw fit with withdraw Salah midway through the second half, sending on Danny Ings to seek his first Champions League strike after a return to goals on Saturday.

Roma grabbed one back through Edin Dzeko, though, with the away goal a glimmer of hope heading into next week, and Diego Perotti notched another from the penalty spot after a handball from Milner.

This rally adds a little flavour to next Wednesday’s second leg in Italy, but Liverpool are still heavy favourites to make it to Kiev.

TIA Man of the Match: Mohamed Salah

Referee: Felix Brych (GER)

Next Match: Stoke City (H) – Premier League – April 28

* Additional reporting by ISNTV.

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