Liverpool thought they’d all but wrapped up their Champions League clash against Red Bull Salzburg when they raced into a three goal lead, but the Austrians had other ideas during a European classic at Anfield.
Taking the lead early through Sadio Mane, Liverpool remained dominant throughout the first half of the contest. Flying full back Andrew Robertson soon added a second goal for the Reds and before the half hour mark the Austrian visitors were in danger of sinking without a trace.
Those fears were added even further to 11 minutes later when Mohamed Salah added the third. It was business as usual for Jurgen Klopp’s men, while the exciting but perhaps inexperienced Salzburg side struggled to reassert any control on the match.
Three minutes later there was a lifeline given to the visitors, when young South Korean talisman Hwang Hee-chan netted a brilliant goal for the away side.
Half time then came around and Salzburg’s American head coach Jesse Marsch had the opportunity to address his charges. Whatever he said to his men in that dressign room at half time worked its charm though, as the Austrian side came out swinging.
Suddenly the whole balance of the game shifted, as Salzburg fought to prove just why they deserved their place in the Champions League group stages.
Full of exciting young talent, this is a side for the future being built in Austria – as has always been Salzburg and the Red Bull football ethos. An attacking side, already having scored a frankly unbelievable number of goals this season, they showed all of their attacking prowess.
Unsurprisingly, perhaps then, it was another of these young wonderkids who stepped up to truly make the comeback a reality.
Japanese international Takumi Minamino rounded off another brilliant attacking move to get Salzburg back within one goal of their hosts. From looking down and out, just needing to hope damage limitation could do its job, the Austrians suddenly found themselves with a real opportunity to fight back and shock the Champions League holders.
As such, one can imagine the scenes in the away end on the hour mark when Salzburg’s worldclass young forward Erling Haland equalised – his 18th goal of the season already.
The delirium was short lived for the hosts, as Liverpool and Salah restored order nine minutes later, a lead they’d hold on to ensure victory with, but it didn’t detract from an incredible game of European football.
Both sides captured the imagination; Liverpool with their expected top quality play and Salzburg, who announced their exhilarating, attacking might to a much more global stage – earning the respect of many a supporter.