Salah’s acute angles & the Reds’ relentless focus lauded as last 16 beckons

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There was no hiding the delight for Liverpool’s players as they celebrated their progression to the last 16 of the Champions League after their 2-0 win at Salzburg.

As is the case with Liverpool and their flair for the dramatics, the Reds were left to secure their passage into the last 16 of the Champions League in the final group game.

A point at the very least would be enough, but with the hosts having scored in all of their games in 2019/20 thus far – the trip to Salzburg appeared anything but straightforward.

And while the two teams set a frantic pace in the opening half which miraculously failed to see the ball rustle the back of the net, the Reds would flex their muscles in the second to secure all three points.

Naby Keita was the man to break the deadlock after latching onto a sumptuous delivery from Sadio Mane before Mohamed Salah, after a plethora of attempts, added his name to the scoresheet with a sublime finish from the tightest of angles.

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA - Tuesday, December 10, 2019: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (C) celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mates captain Jordan Henderson (L) and Virgil van Dijk (R) during the final UEFA Champions League Group E match between FC Salzburg and Liverpool FC at the Red Bull Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

For Virgil van Dijk, when speaking to LFCTV after the game, the Egyptian’s goal was a long time coming after the No. 11 ensured he made proceedings “a little more interesting for the crowd.”

But after a “very mature” performance, the Dutchman was also full of praise for all his teammates:

“In the first half we had opportunities to score [one or two]. But in the second half, we were very mature and played great.

“The belief is always there. You have to show you really want it…the goals we scored were very good and I think everyone was comfortable, you have to give [Salzburg] credit but we dealt with it [all] pretty well.

“[Salah] could have made it a little easier for us tonight. I thought he was trying to make it a little more interesting for the crowd!

“He might have missed a big chance in the first half but you see how decisive he is in the second half and that’s the quality he has got, like the rest of the players.

“Sadio was outstanding, Bobby did so much work and it was a great team performance.”

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA - Tuesday, December 10, 2019: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson celebrates afterfinal UEFA Champions League Group E match between FC Salzburg and Liverpool FC at the Red Bull Arena. Liverpoolwon 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Similarly, Alisson lauded the full team effort on display and urged the Reds to maintain their firm focus as the relentless festive fixture list continues:

“It was a difficult game for us, but everybody played and moved together – defending and attacking in a good way.

“This is a time for focus. The last two games we were focused for the full match if they had chances we were [all] there to help the team.

“We need to keep this focus because we know our quality and what we can do when we put all our intensity [into the game].”

Following the final whistle, players took to Instagram to celebrate reaching the last 16 – with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez both keeping it simple:

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Last 16 ??

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Last 16 ?????

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It was a case of rejoicing in “sliding into the last 16” for Andy Robertson, while Jordan Henderson capped off his impressive outing by sharing his love for the team:

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Sliding into the last 16…

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Love this team ?? last 16 ? #YNWA

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The Brazilian duo of Roberto Firmino and Alisson commended a job “well done”:

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Well done boys ?

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Great result ???? #AB1 #UCL

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For James Milner, it was a case of working out the angles as he shared Salah’s love for Pythagoras’ Theorem:

Dejan Lovren, who remains under an injury cloud, and Gini Wijnaldum welcomed the next stage of the Champions League and showered praise on Liverpool’s ability to “show up when it matters most”:

The Reds will find out who their opponents will be in the next round on December 16, but in the meantime, full focus remains on the visit of Watford on Saturday.

Klopp’s men are on the hunt for their 16th win in 17 league games, a result which would stretch their unbeaten run to a stunning 34 games.

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