For a team in crisis this was exactly what the doctor ordered.
They may be fighting at the national level, but Europe has always brought out the best in Liverpool.
And Jurgen Klopp’s team has one foot in the quarterfinals after their 2-0 first leg win over RB Leipzig in Budapest.
Confident and clinical, the Reds thoroughly deserved their victory, achieved thanks to second-half goals from Mo Salah and Sadio Mane at Puskas Stadium. Halfway through, and with two goals ‘away’ in the bag, he has full control of the tie.
They’ve been few and far between lately, but this was a good night’s work for the Premier League champions. Under pressure at home, they found the continent much more to their liking.
From the first whistle to the last, they were at it. Hunger in Hungary, you could say. They pressed and passed, they concentrated and worked, they were cohesive and organized, solid and dangerous. If confidence is low then it was not shown.
They got a little help from their opponents, of course.
Leipzig may be an emerging force, the second-best team in the Bundesliga and a semi-finalist in this competition last season, but here they played with the naivete of European minnows. Julian Nagelsmann, your manager, will have been pulling his hair out of the exposed carelessness.
Both goals were delivered to Liverpool. First, Marcel Sabitzer, the Leipzig captain, missed a pass behind his own defense to Salah, who hit it in an instant and finished with the minimum of fuss over Peter Gulacsi.
Then just five minutes later the excellent Curtis Jones placed a ball on top of which Nordi Mukiele made a pig’s ear, giving Mane the freedom of Budapest to run clean and fit.
Big goals, big goals. Salah is now 24 in all competitions this season, more than he achieved in all of last season.
At 118, he moves up to the level of the great Ian St John on Liverpool’s all-time list. Only 12 men sit above the Egyptian, and in this kind of way you would support him to pass at least three of them before the season ends. He really is quite a remarkable footballer.
It has taken Mane a bit longer to score goals recently. This was his eleventh of the season, rewarded for an entrepreneurial and persistent display, in which he tormented the hapless Mukiele at every turn.
Liverpool played their luck early on, with Dani Olmo hitting Alisson Becker’s right post foot with a header, but the ‘visitors’ were comfortably the better side thereafter, and could have led at halftime if they had had. to Salah, Roberto Firmino or Andy. Robertson had a little more fortune or precision.
They dominated things in midfield, where Jones and Thiago Alcantara, in particular, enjoyed stellar games, while Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson looked much more like their old selves as a winger.
Klopp will also have enjoyed seeing his team record a clean sheet in eight games. Ozan Kabak seemed confident of his European record with the club, while alongside him Jordan Henderson continues to serve admirably as center-back.
And when those two were raped, Alisson Becker was there to clean up. The Brazilian made a couple of kicking mistakes, but his handling and positioning were spot on.
All in all, then, a solid night of work for Klopp and his men. It has been a trial week for the men of Anfield, but with this evidence they are far from over.
Hey, who knows, maybe another Champions League position is brewing. Stranger things have happened, sure.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.