Mane 9/10, Salah 8/10 as Liverpool rally to avoid a scare vs. FC Salzburg
Liverpool survived a major scare to record their first Champions League points of the season with a 4-3 win over Red Bull Salzburg in a breathtaking encounter at Anfield.
The Reds raced to an early lead after a delightful exchange between Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino before Andy Robertson turned home Trent Alexander-Arnold's cross and Mohamed Salah made it 3-0 from close range. But Hwang Hee-Chan's powerful strike hauled Salzburg back into the game, and the visitors were level within just 15 minutes of the restart as Liverpool were left shell-shocked.
And the thankful hosts were rescued by talisman Mo Salah yet again as the Egyptian netted his second of the game to secure all three points.
Liverpool could have been forgiven for being a bit nervy prior to kickoff, but the Reds' attacking brilliance saw them race in a 3-0 lead. Despite a near-colossal slip-up, Jurgen Klopp's side showed huge character to hold their nerve and carve out a winner with the score level at 3-3.
The hosts were without Joel Matip due to injury, with Joe Gomez replacing him at centre-back. The Reds fell apart after the break and were almost severely punished for their complacency as the visitors looked to snatch a point. On another night this one could have had a very different feel to it at full time.
Manager rating (out of 10)
Jurgen Klopp, 6 -- Nobody could have expected Liverpool to throw away a 3-0 lead, but when the unimaginable did happen Klopp reacted quickly with the near-immediate introductions of James Milner and Divock Origi. That blend of experience and energy proved vital and helped Liverpool to regain a foothold in the game when they were really up against it.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Adrian, 5 -- Given absolutely no chance by a thumping Hee-Chan strike but will count his lucky stars that a tame clearance didn't end up in the back of the net after failing to clear the Salzburg striker. Let down by his centre-backs.
DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 6 -- Another energetic display going forward but left Joe Gomez a little exposed at the back as the visitors threatened much more after the break. Produced a faultless low cross into the box for Robertson to make it 2-0.
DF Joe Gomez, 4 -- Gifted Salzburg an early chance as he looked to twist out of trouble, but the visitors couldn't capitalise. Kept on his toes by the industrious Hee-Chan throughout and was guilty of some major lapses in concentration as Salzburg struck twice in quick succession.
DF Virgil van Dijk, 4 -- This will probably be his weakest display of the season. Turned inside out by Hee-Chan as the striker unleashed a ruthless strike past a helpless Adrian. After going a full year without being beaten on the dribble, it'll be a long time before Anfield sees that happen to van Dijk again.
DF Andrew Robertson, 7 -- Covered so many yards that you'd have been forgiven for thinking there were two of him. Charged forward before turning home fellow full-back Alexander-Arnold's cross with a centre-forward's finish that Robbie Fowler would have been proud of.
MF Fabinho, 5 -- Looked nervous in the second half and was guilty of a few sloppy errors after the break, one of which was punished.
MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 5 -- Not at his best. Should have put the game to bed after another wonderful piece of play from Mane but fired off-target. Replaced by Divock Origi in the 64th minute.
MF Jordan Henderson, 5 -- Looked energetic in the first half but dipped in the second and was replaced in the 62nd minute.
FW Sadio Mane, 9 -- Ran the show. Opened the scoring against his former club with an exquisite finish following a gorgeous one-two with Firmino and looked dangerous every time he got the ball. Not entirely sure how he managed to completely miss the ball with a headed attempt from two yards that could have finished Salzburg's comeback before Salah eventually did.
FW Mohamed Salah, 8 -- Produced a big performance when his team needed him most. Squeezed home to make it 3-0 after the keeper generously palmed the ball straight at his magic left foot and showed excellent composure to steer Liverpool back in front when the Reds were feeling the pressure. Replaced by Naby Keita in the 91st minute.
FW Roberto Firmino, 6 -- Let a golden opportunity to open the scoring go begging but played a lovely one-two for Mane to slot home the opener. Gave the ball away cheaply as the visitors threatened.
MF James Milner, 6 -- Replaced Jordan Henderson in the 62nd minute. Showed his experience to calm things down and his side improved following his introduction.
FW Divock Origi, 5 -- Replaced Georginio Wijnaldum in the 64th minute. Provided Liverpool with some much-needed energy down the left on an exhausting night at Anfield.
MF Naby Keita, NR -- Replaced Mo Salah in the 91st minute. No time to make an impact.