Football

Liverpool end losing streak with 2-0 victory over Leipzig

Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane both scored to help Liverpool snap a three-match losing run by defeating RB Leipzig 2-0 in the Champions League Round of 16, first leg on Wednesday morning (Feb 17, Singapore time).

Juergen Klopp has written off his team’s chances of winning back-to-back Premier League titles after they lost three successive domestic matches, but they are alive in Europe.

They gained a clear advantage in their tie going into the March 10 return leg, thanks to two blunders by Leipzig.

Salah easily intercepted a back pass by Leipzig’s Marcel Sabitzer to put the Reds ahead in the 53rd minute and on course for their first win in any competition since late January.

Mane then pounced on another mistake when Nordi Mukiele failed to clear a long ball five minutes later, sinking the German side at Budapest’s Puskas Arena, where the game had been relocated due to Covid-19 restrictions in Germany.

“It was the game we wanted, the game we needed,” Klopp said. “Leipzig can be a real monster, they overrun teams, they are really physical and tonight we controlled them in an exceptional way. We forced them to make mistakes. I am happy with the performance.”

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, meanwhile, warned his teammates that it's only half the job done.

“Keeping a clean sheet was important for us," he said.

“We just want to keep going and keep fighting every time we play. There have been a lot of difficult situations throughout the season, but we’ve just got to take each game as it comes and take things one step at a time.

“A good win but it’s only half the job done,” he added.

BETTER START

The German side had the better start and Dani Olmo’s downward header in the fifth minute bounced off the base of the post.

With Leipzig defending high, Liverpool initially tried to slice through with deep crosses and one of them found Salah in the 15th, but his chip was blocked by goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi.

Andy Robertson then tried his luck with an audacious 40-metre lob that almost caught Gulacsi out of position, but the Reds had to wait until Salah capitalised with their first chance of the second half.

Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann then saw his players gift another goal with Mukiele’s error and Mane’s crisp finish.

The German side, who came into the match on a four-game winning run in all competitions, were largely toothless in attack following the goals until Tyler Adam’s miss in stoppage time.

“In the return leg, we have to pick up where we left off. Then we will have chances,” Sabitzer said, adding that Leipzig had a good game apart from the two errors.

“It would be better if we had scored but we believe that we have the quality,” he added.  – REUTERS

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