There was always a sense that this fixture might provide Liverpool with some welcome relief.
Premier League and domestic football has proven problematic throughout 2021 for Jürgen Klopp’s side, who have especially struggled against sides looking to sit deep and absorb pressure.
However, a Julian Nagelsmann RB Leipzig side were never likely to do that playing in the ‘home’ leg of this tie, and it was clear that space was there for Liverpool’s fabled front three to run into from the first minute.
Admittedly, the hosts came closest early on in Hungary, with a Dani Olmo header striking the inside of Alisson Becker’s near post. Whether the Brazilian had in fact flicked it away from goal remains unclear.
But Liverpool were the better team throughout, and had a couple of big first-half chances. Roberto Firmino even headed home a seeming opener, but Sadio Mané’s cross was adjudged to have been centred from behind the byline. Just.
After the break, though, Leipzig imploded somewhat and the visitors showed a more clinical edge.
Mohamed Salah seized on a poor backpass from Marcel Sabitzer to finally open the scoring, before Sadio Mané outmuscled Nordi Mukiele on his way to doubling the Liverpool advantage.
Hwang Hee-chan came on for the hosts and might have found a goal to breathe some more life into the tie, but fired wide after breaking through.
This was Liverpool’s best away performance in the Champions League since a 3-1 win at the Allianz Arena on their way to lifting the trophy in Madrid in 2019. The huge result, which came with two crucial away goals, was well deserved.
Your ratings, as the English champions sent out a statement:
Ali 7.5 – Always looked nervy on-ball, but a key save denied Nkunku at the start of the second half, and the Brazilian did enough to put Hwang off for his late chance.
Trent 8 – Played some superb, direct balls throughout, even if he was troubled by Angeliño’s movement early on. Grew defensively more solid, as well.
OK 7.5 – Some shaky passing but a generally very solid display. Made at least one crucial tackle as the Reds held on to their two-goal advantage.http://gty.im/1302511141
Hendo 7 – Hardly put a foot wrong until Hwang snuck in behind him, when the skipper’s error in judgement was not capitalised on, thankfully. Otherwise, you hardly would have noticed that Jordan Henderson is not a natural defender.
Robbo 7.5 – As involved tonight as he has been of late. Shuttled at his best again.
CJ 7 – Did not look at all fazed on the massive stage. Does have a tendency to fade in and out of games but pressed effectively here.
Gini 7 – Too easily bypassed on a couple of first-half counters, but the Dutchman did not tire when others did.
ThiaGOAT 7 – High early tempo allowed his top level technique to stand out. Some fatigue became evident as the game progressed, though, hence his substitution.
Mo 8.5 – All-round top performance. As good as he gets from an off-ball perspective, and the Egyptian’s goal was superbly taken. Man of the match.
Bobby 8 – When Firmino plays like he did here, his relative lack of goal threat is excusable. Ever the key to build-up play, which was notably less tidy after his departure.Embed from Getty Images
Sadio 7.5 – Some slightly messy early touches, but grew into the game between the lines before slotting home the second with a confidence we haven’t seen in recent weeks.
Ox 6.5 – Burst of energy was notable but looks to lack a little bit of self-belief at the moment.
Little Shaq 7 – Busy and quickly involved.
Neco N/A – Some sensible involvements.
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