Venue: Stadion Ljudski vrt, Maribor, Slovenia
After opening the group stages with two consecutive draws, in games that they really should have won, Liverpool needed to stop sharing the spoils. The Reds were in danger of losing out on the vital top spot to Sevilla if they didn’t pick up their form soon. One win in eight in all competitions for Klopp’s men meant that this trip to Slovenia could not be taken lightly.
Maribor were also looking to show that they would not be the whipping boys of this group, as widely predicted.
Maribor lineup (4-2-3-1) – Handanovic; Milec, Rajcevic, Suler, Viler; Kabha, Vrhovec; Kramaric, Ahmedi, Bohar; Tavares(c)
Subs: Obradovic, Billong, Palcic, Pihler, Hotic, Vrsic, Mesanovic
Liverpool lineup (4-1-2-3) – Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Lovren, Moreno; Milner(c), Can, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Coutinho
Subs: Mignolet, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sturridge, Solanke, Henderson, Gomez, Klavan
It took only four minutes. Maribor’s plans just went out the window. Mo “Road Runner” Salah cut in from the right and laid a low ball across for Firmino to put in from six yards. 0-1!
James Milner, who looked to be in exceptional form and was captain for the night, tried to make it two in the seventh minute but his shot was saved.
Six minutes later, Salah rolled a ball into Milner’s path as his run made space on the right. Milner’s pulled his cross back to Coutinho who hit it first-time and it beat the diving Handanovic. 0-2!
The gulf in class between the two sides was already clearly evident and Liverpool were enjoying themselves in front of the capacity crowd. A Milner one-two with Salah on the right led to a cross from the captain but Bobby Firmino’s flicked finish went across the goal and wide.
In the 19th minute, Firmino played a perfectly timed ball into the path of Salah as he beat the offside trap on the right side of the box. Salah was one-on-one with Handanovic and finished tidily with his left foot. 0-3!
The 28th minute was when Maribor had their only chance of note. Bohar found Viler wide on the left. Viler cut inside and had a shot with his weaker, right foot. Karius saved the low strike with ease.
Salah had another shot saved but in the 39th minute, he scored again. Coutinho played Moreno down the left and the fullback’s low cross was turned in by Salah, just taking it off of Firmino’s toe! 0-4!
Firmino and Coutinho both had chances to make it five before half-time but couldn’t make them count.
Half-time: Maribor 0 – 4 Liverpool
Normal service was resumed in the second half.
Coutinho forced Handanovic into a full-stretch save from his free-kick in the 54th minute. Seconds later he swung in another free from wide on the left and Bobby Firmino got the sweetest of glancing headers on it to put it just inside the far post. 0-5!
Oxlade-Chamberlain came on for Salah in the 57th minute. Sturridge replaced Bobby on 68 minutes and Solanke got some game time in place of Wijnaldum from the 76th minute.
“The Ox” had a shot saved by Handanovic ten minutes before he got his first Liverpool goal. Sturridge went through the centre and showed great awareness to lay it off for the onrushing Ox who sidefooted a cool finish low past the Maribor ‘keeper. 0-6!
There was time for one more. Young Trent Alexander-Arnold tried his luck from outside the box and his shot deflected off of Suler, completely wrongfooting Handanovic. 0-7!
Thankfully for Maribor, there were only two minutes of injury-time to be played. That was how it finished. The Reds go top of the group in style!
Final Score: Maribor 0 – 7 Liverpool
xG via fivethirtyeight.com