Liverpool, who has given up on the Premier League title, opened its doors to the quarter-finals of the Champions League by winning 2-0 on Tuesday against Leipzig, in a first leg relocated to Budapest in due to German health regulations.
Forwards Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané each scored a goal and were responsible for recalling that the “Reds” are not yet dead, and even ready to take back the Champions League two years after their last triumph.
For a struggling team, which remained on a 3-1 defeat to Leicester in the Premier League, the English champion showed serenity, fighting spirit, and above all solid opportunism, to ruthlessly take advantage of two huge gifts defense of Leipzig, semi-finalist of the last edition (beaten 3-0 by PSG in Final 8 in Lisbon).In the 53rd minute, Salah intercepted an imprecise receding pass from Marcel Sabitzer. With two touches of the ball and an acceleration that left his defender Lukas Klostermann in place, the Egyptian found himself in front of goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi and cheated on him for the first time (1-0, 53rd).
Five minutes later, on a ball deep in a bell bound for Sané, the French defender Nordi Mukiele completely missed his control and found himself behind in the grass, while the Senegalese spun alone to goal (2- 0, 58e).
Jürgen Klopp, who had regretted the individual largesse of his players in the last Premier League matches, this time saw fate smiling at him. The coach did not doubt his men: he completely renewed the beaten team on Saturday in Leicester, with the exception of James Milner, injured and replaced by Thiago Alcantara.
“We are in a construction situation,” Klopp had explained on the eve of the meeting, “we have been playing good football the last few weeks but we haven’t had good results. But what’s cool about football, it’s that no matter what the result of your last match, you always have a chance to win the next one. ”
The demonstration was made behind closed doors at the Puskas Arena in Budapest (Hungary), where the meeting was organized, German health regulations currently not allowing entry into the territory of a British team.
Leipzig on the pole
The match was not, however, fireworks. Julian Nagelsmann, for Leipzig, did not field any professional center-forward, relying on the speed of his midfielder and his technical forwards Christopher Nkunku and Dani Olmo to make the difference, starting from the idea that central defense would be the weak point of the Reds, in the absence of their post specialists Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joël Matip, all injured.
Leipzig, who dominated the first quarter of an hour, created the best opportunity in the 5th minute, with a beautiful plunging header oriented on the post of Olmo.
But Liverpool then gradually gained the upper hand, without however crushing the match. While Leipzig tried to build, the English relied heavily on long balls in depth, bound for Salah or Mané.
Without success … until the defenders of Leipzig started to give them the assists themselves!