By Matt Ramirez – @Matt_J_Ramirez
Liverpool doubled their points tally in group C of the UEFA Champions League after they beat Red Star Belgrade 4-0 at Anfield.
Goals from Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mané and a brace from Mohamed Salah secured the points for the Merseyside club, with Jürgen Klopp also opting to make some lineup changes, giving Fabinho his first Champions League start of the season.
The win sees the Reds leapfrog Napoli to the top of the group, with the Italian outfit having to settle for a 2-2 draw away to PSG thanks to Ángel dí María’s late equaliser.
The visitors caught the Reds by surprise in the opening minutes of the game, pressing well and playing with a clear intent to attack as opposed to sitting back – which is what many fans expected.
Despite the visitors best efforts, Liverpool soon got into their flow and took the lead in typical fashion. Xherdan Shaqiri won the ball back before finding a surging Andrew Robertson who managed to cut the ball back to Firmino.
The Brazilian, who was arriving into the Red Star penalty area, controlled the cross before firing it straight down the middle of the goal with his left foot. 20 minutes in and Liverpool were 1-0 up.
Having taken the lead, the home side began to seize control of the game, keeping hold of possession well, winning free-kicks and zipping the ball round the Anfield turf to the delight of those in attendance.
The Reds continued their domination for the rest of the half, doubling their lead just before half time. Shaqiri was involved yet again, laying off the ball to Salah who dispatched it into the roof of the visitors net with a swift stroke of his right boot. At half time the Reds went in two goals up.
Liverpool continued their dominate performance in the second half, scoring a third goal five minutes after the restart. Sadio Mané was brought down for a penalty which was ferociously dispatched by Salah.
Questions surrounded the penalty decision, but there was no doubt about the Egyptians ability to finish it. With 40 minutes left to play, Liverpool found themselves 3-0 up.
The home side continued their dominance for the rest of the half and had a chance to increase their lead yet again in the 75th minute. Another questionable decision saw Liverpool awarded a penalty however this time it was saved.
With Salah off the field, Mané stepped up to the plate, only to see his shot touched onto the crossbar by Milan Borjan in the Red Star goal.
Mané didn’t have to wait long to make up for the miss, sticking the ball into the back of the net in the 79th minute. Daniel Sturridge was given the ball in the opposing penalty area and unselfishly laid it off to his Senegalese strike partner.
A touch to control it and then a second to poke it home, saw the Red’s score their fourth and final goal of the game.
Liverpool’s next game in the Champions League will see an immediate reply against Red Star Belgrade in Serbia on November 6th.