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Liverpool beat spirited Salzburg, reach UCL last 16

RB Salzburg v Liverpool FC: Group E - UEFA Champions League

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA - DECEMBER 10: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Naby Keita of Liverpool scores the opening goal and celewbrates 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 John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Liverpool FC via Getty Images

The reigning European champions are in the last 16 of the competition.

Liverpool won Group E on Wednesday as they beat a spirited RB Salzburg 2-0 in Austria to secure their position in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds. A defeat would have seen them knocked out of the competition at the group stage but despite a shaky start they took care of business.

Both teams had plenty of chances in the first half and at the start of the second but two moments of real quality saw Naby Keita and Mohamed Salah do the damage for the Reds as Klopp’s side plan to reach their third-straight UCL final. As for Salzburg, managed by American coach Jesse Marsch, then drop down to the UEFA Europa League for the Round of 32 stage and nobody will want to play the young, talented and speedy Austrians.

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A breathtaking game started in rapid fashion as Stankovic denied Salah, then Alisson denied Minamino and Hwang with Mwepu causing plenty of problems. Moments later Salah had a great chance as he was played in by Mane but scuffed his shot wide, while Haaland was denied by Alisson as the end-to-end nature of the game continued.

Mane’s shot was saved by Stankovic, while at the other end Haaland was denied by Alisson as the hosts continued to look dangerous and neither team had control of the game. Salah played in Keita right on half time but the former RB Salzburg player was denied by Stankovic and couldn’t finish the rebound.

In the second half Salah had a couple of very good chances but he put one over the bar and Stankovic did superbly to claw the ball back, while Haaland then slammed a shot into the side-netting from a great position.

Liverpool made the most of Haaland letting them off the hook as Dejan Lovren went off injured and moments later they were ahead.

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s incredible ball set up an attack down the left and Mane crossed for Keita to head home as the two former Salzburg players combined to put Liverpool 1-0 up. Moments later Salah stunned Salzburg further as he raced towards goal and Stankovic came off his line with Salah at an impossible angle.

But somehow Salah squeezed the ball home from a tight angle to make it 2-0 and set up a comfortable last 30 minutes.

Hwang’s shot was deflected over by Andrew Robertson and that was the closest Salzburg came to launching an unlikely comeback, as Mane and Salah both had chances to extend the lead but it was job done for the reigning champions.

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