Klopp and Liverpool are in seventh heaven with new record victory
Maribor 0 Liverpool 7
Jurgen Klopp hailed Liverpool’s return to form after a record-breaking 7-0 victory over Maribor.
Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah both scored twice while Philippe Coutinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Trent Alexander-Arnold also found the net as Liverpool, with just one win in their last eight matches, ran riot in Slovenia.
It was the first time the Reds had netted seven times away from home in Europe, beating the 5-0 scorelines they recorded against Reykjavik in 1964, Crusaders in 1976 and Haka in 2001.
“The attitude was outstanding, we were spot on from the first second,” Klopp said.
“We scored wonderful goals and played wonderful football. I love the fact that we really stayed concentrated in the second half.
“You can struggle in a game like this if you are not 100%. The counter-pressing was so good.”
Summer signing Salah scored twice in 20 first-half minutes, taking his tally for the season to eight, and knew a performance like that from Liverpool was just around the corner.
He said: “It was a great game, we did good. It was an important result for us. We need to keep looking forward.
“The team did good and we had a good result. We had bad luck in the last few games, we missed many chances but I think everyone had confidence that the results were coming.”
Maribor coach Darko Milanic had a horrendous 32 days in charge of Leeds in 2014, but in the Stadion Ljudski his pain was all concentrated in the opening 40 minutes.
In a start as bright as their ‘bold citrus’ third kit, the visitors were ahead in four minutes when Salah latched onto Mitja Viler’s mistake to outsprint Marko Suler to the ball close to the right touchline and then cross for Firmino to net.
James Milner crossed for Coutinho to cushion a 13th-minute volley past Jasmin Handanovic for his fourth consecutive away goal, a feat last registered by Steven Gerrard in March 2014.
Firmino’s clever through-ball inside left-sided centre-back Suler allowed Salah to open his body and tuck a left-footed shot inside the far post for his seventh of the season as Liverpool scored three from their first four shots on target, reversing a worrying trend which developed in September.
Coutinho and Alberto Moreno combined for Salah to nip in front of Firmino to bundle home his second — the first time since December 2006 they had scored four first-half goals away from home and the first English club to do it in an away Champions League tie.
It could have been more as Coutinho and Salah both had chances saved by Handanovic, while Suler should have reduced the deficit but put a header wide.
There was no respite with Firmino heading in Coutinho’s free-kick to make it 5-0 early in the second half, from which point Klopp was able to rest Salah, Firmino and Georginio Wijnaldum and give meaningful run-outs to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Daniel Sturridge and Dominic Solanke.
The former two combined for the ex-Arsenal man to grab his maiden Liverpool goal before Alexander-Arnold drove home via a deflection.
Maribor: Handanovic, Milec, Rajcevic, Suler, Viler, Kramaric (Hotic, 58 mins), Kabha, Vrhovec, Bohar (Mesanovic, 81 mins), Ahmedi (Pihler, 58 mins), Tavares. Unused subs: Obradovic, Billong, Vrsic, Palcic.
Liverpool: Karius, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Lovren, Moreno, Can, Wijnaldum (Solanke, 76 mins), Milner, Salah (Oxlade-Chamberlain, 57 mins), Firmino (Sturridge, 68 mins), Coutinho. Unused subs: Mignolet, Gomez, Henderson, Klavan.
Man of the Match: Mo Salah
Match rating: 9/10
Referee: Viktor Kassai (Hungary)