LIVERPOOL VICTORIOUS 3-0 VS MARIBOR
Liverpool Continued their resurgence with a comfortable 3-0 win over Slovenian outfit Maribor. Bringing the aggregate score to 10-0 over two legs. With this win you would now expect this Liverpool team to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Yet we should hope that our likely appearance in the last 16 is not settled on penalties because on current form, you would not put much money on Jurgen Klopp’s side scoring from the spot.
Although our other summer signings have not exactly been on fire, Salah reach double figures for the season to settle Liverpool’s nerves and finally deliver a breakthrough against Maribor’s stubborn resistance.
Emre Can grabbed the second but his effort only came after a penalty miss – yet another one – from James Milner.
Sub Daniel Sturridge completed the scoring late on with his first Champions League goal for nearly seven years.
But the most curious aspect was another penalty miss.
Emre Can scored a spectacular effort last night.
This means we have failed to score all four of their spot-kicks at Anfield in 2017 with Milner missing against Southampton in May.
Roberto Firmino missed in the 2-2 against Sevilla in the Champions league while Salah was also a villain against Huddersfield on Saturday.
And last night, Milner watched in frustration as veteran Jasmin Handanovic delivered a cracking save but fortunately for Jurgen Klopp, it did not prove to be a turning point.
In total, we have missed five of their last seven penalties in all competitions so we know what Klopp’s team should be practising over the coming weeks.
salah in action
Liverpool are now the firm favourites to get through this group even though they have managed just two wins – against the same team from Slovenia.
They travel to Sevilla in three weeks before having a home game with Spartak Moscow and one win should be enough now.
We humiliated this same Maribor 15 days earlier but we were never going to see a repeat.
Maribor were bad that night – really bad – but they had won three rounds just to get through the groups stages. The Slovenians must have had something about them.
They certainly put on a far better defensive performance against a Liverpool team without Philippe Coutinho – with Sadio Mane and Adam Lallana still sidelined
Oxlade-Chamberlain, 24, has suffered a nightmare since his arrival from Arsenal in a £35million transfer and was making his first Anfield start.
He had a couple of first half chances while also created a couple of opportunities and will be happy at finally delivering a decent performance for Klopp.
Liverpool also have an injury worry as Georginio Wijnaldum left the pitch early on after turning his ankle and Oxlade-Chamberlain will be hoping to keep his place for the visit to West Ham on Saturday evening.
Klopp was also fortunate he did not have to make another change when Milner avoided an injury following a nasty, studs-up challenge from Aleks Pihler who – unbelievably – avoided a yellow card.
Despite all of their possession, Maribor’s 39-year-old keeper keeper Handanovic had little to do until the half hour. He pushed the ball onto the woodwork, after a Roberto Firmino’s header came off Billong’s leg.
Surprisingly, that was Liverpool’s only decent chance in a first half they dominated in terms of possession but Maribor were certainly parking the bus in front of goal, having used a moped for the first match between these two.
With Sevilla winning at home to Spartak at half-time, Klopp’s side certainly needed to improve in the second period although they were able to avoid a nervous wait for the opener.
Liverpool delivered the breakthrough they needed just three minutes into the second half as they attacked the Kop.
Joel Matip won possession and played the ball out wide to Trent Alexander-Arnold who delivered a fine cross from the right. Salah got ahead of Aleksander Rajcevic, stuck out his leg and the ball skidded off the surface and past Handanovic. It was his fifth European goal this term
The game got worse for defender Rajcevic when he fouled Firmino in the penalty area after being nutmegged by the Brazilian.
Even though Milner’s penalty was decent, Handanovic delivered an outstanding save to his left.
Salah hit the ground in frustration as he should have buried another chance but Can made it 2-0 with an outstanding one-two with James Milner. It was a fine finish from Can but also a stunning cushioned touch from Milner to set up the goal.
Karius, a spectator for most of the night, made a fine save to deny Martin Milec and Sturridge scored from Alberto Moreno’s cross late on.
Like the game against Huddersfield, it was 0-0 at half-time, a missed penalty and 3-0 victory.
Liverpool can now smell the last 16 even though there are still two games to play but we can say we are fortunate it has not exactly been the most difficult of groups.
After our trip to the London Stadium this weekend, we entertain Virgil van Dijk’s Southampton following the international break.
By the time we head to southern Spain to face Sevilla, Klopp will hope to have Coutinho, Mane and Lallana in his ranks which should boost their firepower even further.
And maybe, one of those three trio can take a perfect penalty.