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Mohamed Salah, Liverpool Beat Salzburg 2-0 to Advance into UCL Knockouts

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistDecember 10, 2019

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA - DECEMBER 10: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates after he scores his team's second goal  during the UEFA Champions League group E match between RB Salzburg and Liverpool FC at Red Bull Arena on December 10, 2019 in Salzburg, Austria. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

European champions Liverpool secured a spot in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, as they won 2-0 at Red Bull Salzburg. 

The first half saw a number of big chances for both sides. Alisson Becker was on hand on numerous occasions to keep the Reds in the game early on, before Mohamed Salah missed a couple of huge openings for Liverpool. Somehow, there was stalemate at the break.

Later in the game, Liverpool found their clinical edge, with Naby Keita and Salah striking in quick succession to take the match away from their opponents. 

Victory sees the Reds top Group E, that despite Napoli's 4-0 win over Genk on the same night.

Unsurprisingly, with a win needed to progress, Salzburg swarmed over Liverpool in the opening exchanges.

The Reds had Alisson to thank for ensuring the home side didn't take an early lead, as he was on hand to make a number of important stops. Squawka Football summed up how busy the Brazil international was in the early exchanges of the match and how easy Salzburg were finding it to cut through Liverpool:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Alisson made three saves in the first seven minutes against RB Salzburg, already more than Adrian made in the entire 90 minutes against RB Salzburg at Anfield (2).

Squawka Football @Squawka

RB Salzburg produced six shots on target in the first half against Liverpool: 🎯 03': Mwepu 🎯 07': Hwang 🎯 07': Minamino 🎯 21': Minamino 🎯 24': Haaland 🎯 41': Mwepu Already the most Liverpool have faced in any UCL or PL match this season. https://t.co/hlawAVeZjA

Salzburg were clearly not overawed by the occasion early on and were more than holding their own against the Premier League giants.

Oliver Kay of The Athletic commented on a number of players who stood out for the Austrian outfit, as they caused the visitors problems throughout the opening period:

Oliver Kay @OliverKay

Salzburg SO impressive going forward— Hwang, Haaland, Minamino and others. Less impressive at the back, but so rare these days to see an opponent stretching Liverpool like this. 0-0, but excellent game so far

Their attacking intention did leave the door open for Liverpool at the other end though and Salah should have done better with the two sights of goal he had. Keita was then thwarted by Cican Stankovic at the end of a breathless opening 45 minutes.

Both Liverpool stars were able to find their shooting boots in the second period, though, with Keita the first to find the net against his former club. Journalist Melissa Reddy commented on the smart buildup play from the Reds to go ahead in the 57th minute:

Melissa Reddy @MelissaReddy_

Former Salzburg stars Sadio Mane and Naby Keita combine for the latter to head in a crucial opener for #LFC. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson involved in the build-up.

A minute later, they doubled their lead. Having missed a number of straightforward chances on the night, Salah was able to take the most difficult of the lot.

As was the case with the opening goal, rash play from Stankovic gave the Liverpool player an opportunity to shoot at an empty net. Even so, the Egyptian did superbly to steer the ball home from a tight angle with his weaker foot:

Football on BT Sport @btsportfootball

HOW!? 🤯 Mo Salah doubles the Reds' lead with this madness! We could watch this again and again... https://t.co/0q3820Pngw

Bleacher Report Live @brlive

MO SALAH ➡️ https://t.co/bwFWaCzQIn https://t.co/nGeT5DCRux

Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen had high praise for the finish:

michael owen @themichaelowen

That Salah goal was off the scale. His hardest chance by far. Everything against him. Wow.

After that double salvo from the Reds, the fizz went out of the atmosphere at the Red Bull Arena. It meant Liverpool were able to dictate the final stages with relative ease.

In the end, Liverpool had plenty of chances to extend their lead, with Salah again seeing an effort stopped by Stankovic. But as the clock ticked down, the visiting supporters and manager Jurgen Klopp were able to reflect on a job well done by the players in red.

What's Next?

Liverpool's focus will shift back to their Premier League title chase on Saturday, when they face bottom club Watford at Anfield in the early kick-off. Salzburg will face TSV Hartberg on the same day in the Austrian Bundesliga.