Liverpool returned to top goalscoring form, putting four past Red Star Belgrade to take them back to the top of Group C in the Champions League with a 4-0 victory.
Liverpool 4-0 Red Star Belgrade
Champions League Group Stage, Anfield
October 24, 2018
Goals: Firmino 20′, Salah 45′, 51′ (pen), Mane 80′
Alisson – 6
Had little to do but what he did, he did well.
Made good throws out from the back to start counter-attacks, and was alert when he needed to be.
Spent most of the game warming up.
Grew into the game and eventually looked as creative and as dangerous in attack as Andy Robertson on the other side.
Had a chance to score from Fabinho‘s lofted pass but lobbed the ball into the ‘keeper’s arms with his left foot.
Did well to block a shot early in the first half, but unfortunately that shot was Roberto Firmino‘s.
Had a refreshingly unfriendly tussle with Red Star left-back Marko Gobeljic, and it was his free-kick which was handled in the box and led to the second penalty.
Joe Gomez – 8
Strong and stable—one under-hit pass to Fabinho aside.
Good in the air and commanding on the ground.
Showed great pace to win the ball ahead of Branko Jovicic in a foot race.
Won a total of eight aerial duels, and made more actions in the game than any other player, with 103.
Virgil van Dijk – 7
Was dominant in the air when he needed to be, and made a couple of good passes out to Trent.
Not troubled as much as he would be against stronger opposition, but playing in a dominant side requires concentration and an eye for a pass. Van Dijk has both.
Andy Robertson – 7
Had the awareness to pull the ball back to Firmino in the buildup to the first goal, rather than blast in an aimless cross.
Always an outlet down the left, and a dangerous one at that.
Was given a rest ahead of future, more demanding challenges, being replaced by Alberto Moreno for the last 10 minutes.
Fabinho – 8.5
Looked settled in the deepest midfield position and could be set for a run in the side.
Jurgen Klopp has taken time to bed the Brazilian in, but on this evidence he looks ready.
Accomplished on the ball and with his choice of pass, and a nuisance for the opposition in defence, even though he was lucky not to be booked for a tackle early on.
Played a good pass to Trent which the right-back might have done better with.
One great tackle high up the pitch in the first half produced a loud cheer from his new fans, and by the end of the game he was leaving opposition players strewn on the floor all over the pitch.
Georginio Wijnaldum – 7.5
Started the game well, ended the game well, and was also good in the middle part of the game.
Was operating alongside Fabinho in a two, and the partnership worked well.
Used his body to get out of tight spaces and played some neat passes; covered well whenever Fabinho marched forward.
Liverpool’s most consistent midfielder at the moment.
Xherdan Shaqiri – 8.5 – (Man of the Match)
Was being booed by the pockets of Red Star fans around the stadium, but it seemed to spur him on.
Kicked off his evening of creativity with a ball over the top for Mohamed Salah which the striker couldn’t finish.
Created the chance for the first goal with his pass out to Robertson which deserved an assist in itself, but gets one for his pass to Salah for the second.
Always looked dangerous cutting in from his position on the right, a position which is normally occupied by Salah but freed up due to the Egyptian’s presence up front.
Roberto Firmino – 7
Had the first shot of the game, but it was blocked by his own team-mate, Alexander-Arnold.
Went on to open the scoring with a calm finish just inside the box, taking a touch on Robertson’s pass before firing a shot through a pack of defenders, deflecting off one of them into the goal.
Another good effort from distance was saved by Milan Borjan.
He looked comfortable in the No. 10 role, and set up Sadio Mane for another chance in the last minute.
Sadio Mane – 7
Dangerous on the counter but not as productive as the others, and should have had a few goals rather than the one he managed to stab home from Sturridge’s pass.
Won a penalty in the second half by making the most of an arm across his face by Filip Stojkovic, which was good to see.
Salah took that particular spot-kick, but when the second penalty was awarded, Mane stepped up only to see his effort saved by Borjan.
He did get his name on the scoresheet eventually, completing a night of goals for Liverpool’s front three.
Mohamed Salah – 8
Operated as the striker in the 4-2-3-1, and had a couple of chances in the first half, prior to his goal just before the break.
His first, from Shaqiri’s pass, was a weak right-footed shot saved by the ‘keeper, and the second was fairly similar. Even though he was saved by the offside flag, he wasn’t to know and should have buried the chance.
He finally found the net with a more convincing finish just as the half drew to a close.
He may be off form, especially in comparison to last season, but he now has three goals in two games, which should be good for his confidence.
Though his attempt at goal from a corner suggested that his confidence was OK anyway.
Starting XI Average Rating – 7.41
Adam Lallana (on for Shaqiri, 68′) – 6
Put through on goal with 10 to go but saw his shot saved as the chasing defenders caught up with him.
Daniel Sturridge (on for, Salah 73′) – 7
Wanted to take the second penalty but didn’t kick up a fuss when Mane decided it was his.
Went on to let his team-mate have another, easier chance on goal, with the assist for the fourth goal.
Forced Borjan into a save with a long-range effort in the dying minutes.
Alberto Moreno (on for, Robertson 82′) – N/A
Made a couple of attacking runs down the left but wasn’t on for long enough to make an impact.
Jurgen Klopp – 8
His change of formation worked perfectly, and it saw Salah back in the goals.
Firmino was ideal for the attacking midfield role, having played a few minutes in the position towards the end of the Huddersfield game.
Shaqiri’s performance on the right of the three showed his versatility, and that he deserves a place in Liverpool’s best XI.
Bigger tests await, but this game was very useful when it came to trying something new, and for new signings Fabinho and Shaqiri to settle further into the team.