Written by Kieran Green (@kierlfc12)
Liverpool held off a valiant Red Bull Salzburg side at Anfield to secure their first three points of this seasons European campaign.
The current holders had been unsuccessful in their group E opener away at Napoli in September, and were looking to get off the mark against the Austrian champions, who had thrashed Genk 6-2 in matchday one.
The Reds were quick off the mark and dominated the opening minutes, with their efforts rewarded as the clinical Sadio Mane struck at the near post after ten minutes.
Jurgen Klopp’s side continued to press the panic-stricken Salzburg, squandering a flurry of chances to all but finish off their opponents – who were struggling to keep the European Champions at bay.
However, it wasn’t long before Liverpool’s unrelenting pressure paid-off. Andrew Robertson slotted Liverpool’s second of the night, before Mohamed Salah made it 3-0 after 36 minutes, which seemed to have effectively ended the tie.
Despite finding themselves on the wrong end of a 3-0 score-line, the persistent Salzburg refused to back down. The Austrians instead re-grouped and switched to a midfield diamond that allowed them to press their opponents with much more force. The reds had visibly slowed down towards the end of the first half and were caught sleeping as a consequence, with Hwang Hee-Chan getting the better of Virgil Van-Dijk before dispatching a fierce effort into the far corner to pull one back.
The visitors used their stunning momentum to fight back against the home side, and had levelled the tie to 3-3 within the hour. The away end erupted, as Anfield deflated. The Salzburg manager Jesse Marsch bombed down the touchline towards the Anfield Road end, in a manner that was reminiscent of Jose Mourinho’s antics during a certain fixture in April 2014. The game had been flipped on its head.
Despite this, Liverpool would not surrender. The introduction of James Milner strengthened the reds midfield, whilst the introduction of Madrid hero Divock Origi boosted morale amongst the crowd.
Liverpool began to test their plucky opponents once more, with the new substitutes positively impacting the tie.
Their blushes were finally spared by Mohamed Salah, who lashed home to make it 4-3 after goalkeeper Stankovic was caught flat footed following Firmino’s flick on.
As the final whistle blew, the courage and fight displayed by Red Bull was appreciated by the Kop, who applauded the deflated visitors off the pitch. Whilst Jurgen Klopp was quick to comment on how thrilling the tie was. He will have plenty to think about after his side threw away a three goal lead in such easy fashion. Despite this, a first win was secured, with the reds now looking forward to a tricky winter schedule that includes a trip to Qatar in December.
Meanwhile Salzburg will be hopeful of their chances of qualification to the knockout stages after their brilliant display at Anfield. They now focus their attention back on their campaign in the Austrian Bundesliga, before welcoming Napoli to the Red Bull Arena in October.
Liverpool 4: Mane (9), Robertson (25), Salah(36), Salah (69)
RB Salzburg 3: Hwang (39), Minamino (56), Haland (60)
Referee: Andreas Ekberg