Just over half an hour into the UEFA Champions League fixture between Liverpool and Salzburg, it looked as if it was another one of those one-sided fixtures that the group stage of the competition usually comes up with.
But it was Liverpool’s 100th home fixture in European Cup. It was the first Champions League match at Anfield after the comeback against Barcelona that was from a fantasy world. They were playing a team that has been impressing with their attacking football, a team that scored 6 goals in their first match. The match shouldn’t have ended as a dull contest. It wasn’t meant to be. And it did not.
When Liverpool scored three in 36 minutes, they were anticipating another comfortable victory. So were a million others watching, a few of which had probably switched off or turned to other matches during the night. Perhaps it led to complacency, as three minutes later, the visitors’ fightback began when Hwang left Virgil van Dijk on the floor as the South Korean turned inside and fired into the far corner. Yes, the UEFA player of the year was made to look silly.
Klopp was growing visibly frustrated on the touchline as his side did not seem to have any answer when Salzburg started to impose their blueprint on the match. Going further into the match, a goal was coming, and it came. In the 56th minute, when Minamino volleyed in from Hwang’s cross, the Anfield sensed something incredible might happen.
“I thought we were outstanding in the first 30 minutes,” Klopp said after the match.
“The momentum changed and it was really difficult to get a foot in the game. We had to wait until they had scored the third goal, then we were able to strike back.”
Hat trick hero from Matchday 1, Haaland was introduced and instantly offered an even more direct threat. And he did not take long to add to the scoring.
Moments after missing a one-on-one opportunity, the 19-year-old tapped in at the back post after good counter attack. The Anfield was in for a shock. The incredible might have happened if not for Mohamed Salah who smashed past Stankovic nine minutes later to revitalise his team, and eventually give them three points.
“At 3-3 we had put a lot into it, maybe our guys were a little bit tired and it’s an incredible team we’re playing against,” Salzburg’s manager Jesse Marsch said.
“The important thing is to learn from this loss to give ourselves a chance to get out of this group.”