An almost carbon copy of the first leg saw Liverpool successfully secure their place in the Champions League quarter-finals, with a 2-0 win over Leipzig keeping their hopes for silverware alive.
Liverpool 2-0 RB Leipzig (4-0 agg)
Champions League Last 16, Second Leg, Puskas Arena
March 10, 2021
Goals: Salah 71′, Mane 74′
Alisson – 7 (out of 10)
A relatively uneventful night for the Brazilian as his teammates kept him well protected for the better part of the 90 minutes.
When called upon, however, Alisson was quick and assertive as headlined by his swift response down low to deny Olmo.
A very handy clean sheet, just his ninth of the campaign.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7
Positive forays forward showed a spark is very much there to be ignited with his touch much improved.
Had a considerable amount of defensive work to get through, primarily in the first 45 which was highlighted by a nice chop out, while at the other end of the field his indecision looked to have cost him a goal.
Nat Phillips – 8
His selection was a nod of faith and his black head bandage was a regular sight as he was asked one aerial question after the other, doing little wrong in the process.
Leipzig focused a lot of their attacks on his side and while his pace is a clear weakness, Phillips largely kept things simple and was not afraid to step forward going the other way.
Ozan Kabak – 7
Strong in the contest and seemingly more at ease in the side, Kabak found most of the action come the way of his partner.
The 20-year-old did all that was required of him and that’s all one could ask for an important European night.
Andy Robertson – 6
A mixed night for the Scot with his tireless runs down the left flank also accompanied by a tendency to gift away possession in addition to holding a loose offside line which forced unnecessary danger.
Fatigue does come into play no doubt with Robertson having played the most minutes of any other Red so far this season.
Fabinho – 9 (Man of the Match)
What a sight to see the Brazilian back marshalling the side in midfield, in what was only his fourth start in the position all season.
His presence alone granted the freedom of movement to others that a thing called Brexit should be handed a lecture over, and who could forget his inspector gadget legs breaking up play.
Gini Wijnaldum – 7
While released from the No. 6 role, Wijnaldum still offered valuable defensive protection in front of a relatively inexperienced centre-back pairing.
But his ability to link up with the wingers was a prime example of what has been missing from this side with Fabinho forced to play in defence, with fluidity making its welcome return.
Thiago – 8
With his defensive load lightened, Thiago‘s creative ingenuity took the chance to shine with his brilliant karate-like ball over the top to an on-running Salah a thing of beauty.
An early burst through the middle where he opted to pass instead of shoot was a sign of the times but his pressure off the ball in both transitional phases was a particular highlight.
Mohamed Salah – 8
A bright outlet for the Reds having popped up across the forward line and a key threat on the counter, but like his teammates, his finishing had left a bit to be desired.
Until it hadn’t. You feared he had taken too many touches before pulling his shot back across Gulacsi but his radar was on point as he netted his 25th goal of the season.
Was much more of a physical presence this time around and here’s hoping it’s an outing that triggers a greater return from his chances moving forward.
Sadio Mane – 6
A header into the ground from close range early on in proceedings epitomised both his and Liverpool’s season, you could only laugh.
But it ensured his goal, his 12th of the season, and a lovely outside of the boot pass to set up the opener would have been a welcome relief after working tirelessly throughout with little to show for it on the scoresheet.
Diogo Jota – 7
It was a case of catching the yips for Jota, who was central to Liverpool’s attack on the night but was another to embody the lack of luck, composure and ruthlessness in front of goal.
He was otherwise sharp outside the box, as his quick pass onto his Egyptian teammate showcased, but with signs of fatigue after his second start in three days following a three-month absence he was rightly withdrawn.
Divock Origi (on for Jota, 72′) – 7 –
Did exactly what you want a sub to do, make an impact on the scoresheet. Nice whipped ball to the back post for Mane to capitalise.
An eager presence when introduced and you just hope he get some consistent minutes under his belt to finish off the season.
James Milner (on for Wijnaldum, 82′) – N/A –
Little time to have an influence but was able to hand the Dutchman a somewhat early night.
Kostas Tsimikas (on for Robertson, 89′) – N/A –
A token appearance late on.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (on for Mane, 89′) – N/A –
Subs not used: Adrian, H.Davies, R.Williams, B.Davies, N.Williams, Jones, Shaqiri
Jurgen Klopp – 9
A heavy weight would have been on his shoulders after a torrid run in the league and his gleeful smile at acknowledging Fabinho playing in midfield pre-game said everything you needed to know.
It was reciprocated by Reds worldwide.
And what a welcome return it was, ensuring the Reds had a bit of spark injected back into them and allowing the shackles to come off elsewhere.
And Klopp’s relief upon seeing the ball finally nestle into the back of the net was clear and Liverpool did exactly what was needed, safely navigating to the last eight.
It keeps the season alive and hopefully provides a nice platform to take into the final league game before the international break at Wolves.
Now we eagerly await the draw. Up the Reds.