Liverpool cruised into the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time since 2008 with an emphatic 7-0 demolition of Russian side Spartak Moscow at Anfield. Goals from Phillipe Coutinho (x3), Sadio Mane (x2), Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah helped Liverpool beat the record for goals scored in a Champions League group stage by an English side (21 by Manchester United) and put down a quite frankly awful Spartak side.
It was a brilliant start for the Reds as, in the 4th minute, Salah was brought down in the area after a silly tackle from the Moscow defender. Coutinho, captain for the evening with both Jordan Henderson and James Milner on the bench, stepped up and expertly finished it into the bottom right corner. This set the tone for the opening 20 minutes.
The second goal came just 11 minutes after the first when, after a beautiful attacking move that involved the entirety of the fantastic four, Coutinho was there to finish Firmino’s incredibly unselfish pass across the box. It was reminiscent of Firmino’s goal against Brighton at the weekend and shows once again that when on form our attacking talent is almost unmatched.
3 minutes later the score was 3-0 when Firmino capitalised on yet another defensive error from Spartak and finished brilliantly with the outside of his foot. The was a break in goal as the opposition finally decided it was time to wake up a bit. Quincy Promes was by far their most dangerous player and caused our defence a few problems. He wasn’t good enough to haul his team back into the game however as just 2 minutes after half time the ball was crossed in from the left by Milner (who had replaced the unfortunately injured Alberto Moreno) to Sadio Mane who spectacularly volleyed the ball past the helpless Aleksander Selikhov. It was world class technique and possibly the pick of the night.
4-0 quickly became 5-0 as some brilliant work from Coutinho (along with Milner) allowed the Brazilian to get a shot off (which deflected) into the net and gave Phil the first hattrick of his professional career. 5-0 became 6-0 fifteen minutes after that when substitute Daniel Sturridge pulled the ball across the box to Mane who did very well to adjust his body in order to bundle the ball into the net.
The only thing that hadn’t been checked off the wish list by this point was a goal from our top scorer. When Salah was flagged offside when clean through on goal in the last 10 minutes it had Coutinho, who had played the ball through, with his head in his hands. The whole team wanted a goal for the Egyptian. The magical moment finally came in the 86th minute as the ball fell to him in the box and he took two Spartak players out of the game with one brilliant turn before thrashing the ball into the top of the net with his right (!) foot.
7-0 it was. And 7-0 it finished. Top of the group and into the last 16 where we could meet giants such as Bayern Munich, Real Madrid or Juventus. With our attack in this kind of form however you would be foolish to bet against us verses any team in world football. It’s a good time to be a Liverpool fan, onto the Christmas period and the Merseyside Derby on Sunday, up the Redmen!