Liverpool took a big step towards Champions League quarter-final qualification with a 2-0 victory against Red Bull Leipzig in Budapest.
Goals from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah gave the nominal away team the victory with a performance of control and defensive solidity.
Jordan Henderson and Ozan Kabak were once again paired in the heart of the Reds defence, but there weren’t the errors that defined the recent Leicester City defeat and Jurgen Klopp is sure to be proud of his team and their showing against the Bundesliga side
Leipzig, semi-finalists last season, started well and they almost had the opening goal when Angelino’s cross was met by the head of Dani Olmo and the Spaniard directed the ball off the post.
After a ropey opening 10 minutes, Liverpool began to settle and they had the best chance when Mohamed Salah shot straight at Peter Gulacsi after Trent Alexander Arnold’s delicious pass found the Egyptian in the box. Jordan Henderson’s raking pass found the full-back in an advanced position and the Scouser showed his scope in all its glory and deftly clipped a pass into Salah‘s path. The number 11 should have scored, but the move was a clear indicator of the Reds’ quality.
With Thiago beginning to run the game, the visitors elbowed their way into the ascendancy. A typically sharp counter-press saw Salah pilfer the ball and feed Roberto Firmino a pass on the right flank. The Brazilian stood a cross up to the back post, but Sadio Mané headed it over.
Another opportunity soon arose when Alexander Arnold — after a neat passing move — found Firmino in the box. The Reds’ 9 badly miscued his shot, but the incisive build-up was typical of Liverpool’s dominance.
The traffic was all going one way and the English team almost took the lead when a scramble saw Gulacsi fly off his line in the Leipzig goal and undercook a clearance. Noticing the empty net, Andy Robertson tried a long-range chip that narrowly flew over the bar.
The second half began in a similar, high-paced fashion and each team created chances in the opening ten minutes. Leipzig spurned a good opening when Christopher Nkunku fired straight at Alisson after a through ball sent him behind.
The Reds punished him and his team moments later when a typically high press forced Lukas Klostermann into a blind pass. The German unwittingly sent Salah through on goal and the Egyptian made no mistake with a low finish past Gulacsi.
With their tails up, Liverpool doubled their lead in quick fashion. Nordi Mukieke, who was impressive up until that point, misread the flight of a long pass and it presented a chance for Mané to run in behind. Showing composure, the Senegalese forward steadied himself and tucked a finish into the bottom corner.
From there on in, the six times winners saw out the game comfortably. The only moment of real panic in the second half came close to the final whistle when Hwang Hee Chan, a Leipzig substitute, dragged a finish wide of the goal when put through on goal in the right-hand channel.
After a terrible run of domestic form, Liverpool will be hoping this win and performance will be a shot in the arm for the rest of their season.
Liverpool team: Alisson; Alexander, Kabak, Henderson, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Jones, Thiago; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Substitutes: Xherdan Shaqiri for Firmino, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain for Thiago, Neco Williams for Salah.
Subs not used: Kelleher, Williams, Phillips, Davies, Origi, Adrian, Tsimikas, Cain, Clarkson.