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Red Bull Salzburg 0-2 Liverpool: Reds reach Champions League knockout stages with win

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Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah scored a right-footed goal from outside the box for the first time since moving to Europe from Egypt

Defending champions Liverpool reached the Champions League last 16 as Group E winners thanks to two second-half goals against Red Bull Salzburg.

The Reds, who needed at least a point to progress, were on the ropes at times against attacking opposition.

But from the moment Naby Keita headed in Sadio Mane’s cross, there was only going to be one winner.

Mohamed Salah clinched victory 100 seconds later with an excellent finish from a tight angle.

Jurgen Klopp’s side needed the three points to top the group because Napoli beat Genk 4-0.

The Reds will discover their Champions League last-16 opponents in Monday’s draw in Nyon, Switzerland (11:00 GMT). Real and Atletico Madrid are both possible opponents.

Salzburg, who had scored 87 goals in 24 games before this, drop into the Europa League last 32. Their 19-year-old striker Erling Braut Haaland had chances to score but failed to become the first player to score in his first six Champions League appearances.

  • Follow Tuesday’s Champions League games here

Reds comfortable winners… eventually

Liverpool had hoped to have sealed their last-16 place before the final group game – but they came to Austria needing a point against a side who pushed them all the way in a 4-3 thriller at Anfield.

Salzburg started at an electric pace, with Virgil van Dijk having to stop Haaland from having a one-on-one with Alisson after 15 seconds.

There were nine shots on target before the break – the most in the first half of a Champions League match without there being a goal since Schalke v Manchester United in April 2004.

Alisson needed to make six saves in the first half, although Liverpool arguably had the best chance when Salah shot wide from close range when completely unmarked.

The Egyptian also fired over the bar from eight yards after the restart.

Two shaky moments from Salzburg keeper Cican Stankovic eventually settled the game. He rushed off his line to try to take the ball off Mane, who was able to cross for Keita to head into an empty net – both former Salzburg players.

And less than two minutes later he again left his goal unguarded, with Salah going round him before somehow finding the net with his right foot from a tight angle outside the box – a chance much harder than many of the eight shots he failed to score with.

They never looked back after that and kept a second clean sheet in a row, having conceded in each of the 13 matches before that.

End of the party for Salzburg

Salzburg were one of the stories of the group stage, with 16 goals in their opening five games – more than the two teams who finish above them. Only two teams – Bayern Munich and Tottenham in Group B – have scored more.

In fact 19-year-old Haaland, with eight goals, has outscored 17 teams including Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid.

Needing to win, they had chances in a frantic start – which could have seen the game play out very differently – with the lively Hwang Hee-chan and Takumi Minamino having shots saved by Alisson in quick succession.

But only three teams have conceded more goals in the group stages than the 13 Salzburg have let in and their race was run after the two quick-fire Liverpool goals,

Norway striker Haaland was replaced in the second half, having only had three shots and 23 touches – although he has still scored 28 goals in 22 games this season.

The Champions League’s loss is the Europa League’s gain, with the Austrian champions moving into that tournament. Although Haaland could be back if he joins one of the many Champions League clubs he is being linked with next month.

‘No idea how Salah scored’ – reaction

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp to BT Sport:“What a team. What an effort. It was a tough game.

“They started so direct. They did so many smart things. We were ready to defend it. It was a very tense game.

“In the second half they couldn’t cope with the intensity. We scored two wonderful goals. We could have scored six or seven which is crazy. We won the group, we won the game, all good.

“First half, we had to put a proper shift in. When we had the ball we had sitters and didn’t score. Then Mo scored the most difficult situation of the whole night – he scored that goal.

“I have no idea [how]. With his quality, how he didn’t score one or two of the others I have no clue.

“So many sensational performances. This kind of attitude, it’s great. A tricky one but we did it.”

Match stats – only Messi betters Salah’s record

  • Liverpool have progressed from all three of their Champions League group stages under Jurgen Klopp. They had been knocked out at this stage in their previous two Champions League campaigns before his arrival.
  • Salzburg’s 16 goals is the most scored by a side to be eliminated from their Champions League group since Chelsea in 2012-13 (also 16).
  • Liverpool kept a clean sheet in an away Champions League game for the first time in 11 matches, having conceded 18 goals in their previous 10.
  • Salzburg have lost back-to-back home games in European competition for the first time since October 2016. They were unbeaten in 19 home European games before losing to Napoli and Liverpool.
  • Excluding qualifying games, English sides are unbeaten in 18 meetings with Austrian clubs in major European competition (W14 D4).
  • Mohamed Salah has been involved in 27 Champions League goals for Liverpool (19 goals, eight assists) – only Lionel Messi (28) has been involved in more since the Egyptian joined the Reds in 2017.

Man of the match – Sadio Mane

It was not a game of outstanding individual performances, but Sadio Mane drawing the goalkeeper out before crossing to Naby Keita for the opener set the Reds on their way

What’s next?

Liverpool turn their attention back to trying to win their first Premier League title. They host Watford at 12:30 GMT on Saturday looking to maintain or extend their eight-point lead at the top.

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