Liverpool through as Europa League group winners after dismantling Lask

Liverpool have reached the last 16 of the Europa League as group winners with victory over LASK at Anfield.

Luis Diaz and Cody Gakpo both struck in the space of three first-half minutes before Mohamed Salah’s penalty after the break and Gakpo’s second late on in a straightforward win.

Toulouse’s failure to beat Union St-Gilloise ensures Liverpool cannot be caught at the top of Group E. The Reds go through to the knockouts and avoid February’s play-off round.

Liverpool had total control inside 15 minutes following a quickfire double. First, Diaz sprayed a ball wide to Joe Gomez before running around the back of the defence into the area to meet the right-back’s cross and steer his header into the net.

Shortly after, a well-worked move between Diaz, Salah and Gakpo around the LASK box was finished from close range by the Dutchman.

Liverpool missed several first-half chances to put the game to bed, but had to wait until LASK keeper Tobias Lawal felled Gakpo in the area on 48 minutes, allowing Salah to slam in the third, with Gakpo adding a fourth following Trent Alexander-Arnold’s clever pass.

“Two top results for us tonight in the group,” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

“A lot of positives from the game.”

“This game should have been put to bed [before half-time], we should have finished it off but we didn’t. The third goal just after half-time was helpful.

“We worked for the clean sheet, which is what we wanted, so a top result and really good performance.”

It would have been a major shock had LASK, who have now failed to beat English sides in six meetings and have conceded at least two goals in every game, won at Anfield.

But it was a major shock when Toulouse beat Liverpool last time out, disrupting what had looked like a procession to the latter stages of the Europa League. Perhaps, stung by events in France, Liverpool began this match much livelier and got the job done.

Although LASK – roared on by endlessly noisy away fans – did have their moments, they were overcome by the hosts’ sheer quality.

Jurgen Klopp did make nine changes from the draw at Manchester City, but Salah was among the two who remained and this was hardly a Liverpool youth XI.

One player who came in was goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher, who looks set to start the next few games with Alisson sidelined.

The Republic of Ireland international was reassuringly solid and made a number of good saves in a very open second half.

“He will get a little run in the team and what a way to start that run, keeping the clean sheet,” former Liverpool striker Michael Owen told TNT Sports of Kelleher.

“He wasn’t overworked but everything he had to do he did well. He has never let the team down. He has always done well when he has come in.”

Former Liverpool midfielder Joe Cole added: “Klopp has always talked glowingly of him. He has always said he is the best number two goalkeeper in the league.

“It is a thankless job – you are rarely used and when you are you are in the limelight, but Liverpool are in safe hands with him. There is an air of calm to the back four.

“He will be tested with Liverpool’s high line. He will have some work to do and a role to play for sure.”

Share this post:


Scroll to Top
× How can I help you?