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LINZ, AUSTRIA - Thursday, September 21, 2023: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez celebrates after scoring his side's first equalising goal from a penalty kick during the UEFA Europa League Group E matchday 1 game between LASK and Liverpool FC at the Raiffeisen Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

LASK 1-3 Liverpool: Another comeback as Reds open European account

Liverpool were forced to summon their comeback powers again on the opening night of their Europa League campaign, winning 3-1 at LASK to collect their first three European points.

LASK 1-3 Liverpool

Europa League Group Stage (1), Raiffeisen Arena
September 21, 2023

Goals

Flecker 14′
Nunez (pen) 56′
Diaz 63′ (assist – Gravenberch)
Salah 88′ (assist – Nunez)


Jurgen Klopp insisted he would not simply hand out opportunities because it is the Europa League, but he surprised the majority with 11 changes in Austria.

Stefan Bajcetic‘s first minutes since March, in Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s inverted right-back role no less, Ryan Gravenberch and Ben Doak‘s maiden start, plus Caoimhin Kelleher in goal.

Understandably then, Liverpool were not always on the same wavelength and it led to the opening goal in just the 14th minute, with miscommunication in midfield leading to a corner and a rocket finish from the hosts.

The fourth game from six this season that the Reds have conceded first. Consistent for all the wrong reasons.

LINZ, AUSTRIA - Thursday, September 21, 2023: LASK's Florian Flecker celebrates after scoring the first goal during the UEFA Europa League Group E matchday 1 game between LASK and Liverpool FC at the Raiffeisen Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Darwin Nunez had sighters and came the closest to a first-half equaliser with a close-range header, but while the Reds dominated possession, they cried out for accuracy and physicality in the contest.

Frustration brewed with a combination of sloppy play and decisions from the referee, though the Reds were far from blameless for the latter.

HT: LASK 1-0 Liverpool

  • 11 changes; Gravenberch and Doak make first start
  • Conceded first for the fourth time this season
  • Nunez, Diaz and Salah with the goals
  • Reds start Europa campaign with a victory

There were no immediate changes from Liverpool after the break, though they returned with impetus – even if they all appeared hesitant to take a shot to start.

But it was laid on a platter for Nunez to level the scores after Luis Diaz won a penalty, with Liverpool’s No. 9 comfortably converting for his third goal of the season.

Bajcetic, Wataru Endo and Doak all made way at the hour mark as Joe Gomez, Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai were introduced.

LINZ, AUSTRIA - Thursday, September 21, 2023: Liverpool's Luis Díaz (R) celebrates after scoring the second goal during the UEFA Europa League Group E matchday 1 game between LASK and Liverpool FC at the Raiffeisen Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Just two minutes later and the Reds were 2-1 up, with Harvey Elliott and Gravenberch combining on the right flank before the latter perfectly teed up Diaz for a first-time finish. Exquisite.

The assist-maker, however, was forced from the field 11 minutes later with what Klopp later revealed was simply cramp after his first start since arriving.

And as one would expect, Mohamed Salah could not let the occasion pass without adding to his goal tally, finishing superbly through the goalkeeper’s legs after brilliant build-up play from Nunez. His 42nd in Europe for the club.

In the end, it may not have been the prettiest of performances but the Reds got the job done with a dominant second half, opening their Europa League account with three points.


TIA Man of the Match: Luis Diaz

Referee: Marco Di Bello (ITA)

LASK: Lawal; Luckeneder (Darboe 80′), Ziereis, Andrade; Flecker, Jovicic, Horvath, Renner; Ljubicic (Kone 68′), Havel (Mustapha 68′), Zulj

Subs not used: Siebenhandl, Bello, Talovierov, Stojkovic, Ljubic, Ba, Balic, Usor, Goiginger

Liverpool: Kelleher; Bajcetic (Gomez 61′), Konate (Matip 81′), Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Endo (Mac Allister 61′), Elliott, Gravenberch (Salah 74′); Doak (Szoboszlai 61′), Diaz, Nunez

Subs not used: Alisson, Jaros, Quansah, Robertson, Jones, Jota, Gakpo

Next match: West Ham (H) – Premier League – Sunday, Sept 24, 2pm (BST)