LASK 1-3 Liverpool: Mo Salah, Luis Diaz, and Darwin Nunez score as Reds mount ANOTHER comeback win after poor first half in Austria where they fell behind
- Liverpool kicked off their Europa League campaign with a comeback victory
- After a shaky start in Linz, Jurgen Klopp’s men turned up in the second half
- Click here to watch the IAKO Battle of Old Trafford YouTube Special from the Mail Sport Studios
Jurgen Klopp said Liverpool were in the Europa League to ‘compete and not give out opportunities’ when asked this week if the competition was a chance to bleed in youngsters and fringe players. For much of this match, the opposite was the case.
The Reds handed out lots of opportunities by making 11 changes to the side who beat Wolves last weekend. And they did not compete at all in the first half. Austrian side LASK were stronger, well drilled off the ball and capitalised on Liverpool’s many weaknesses.
But Klopp’s men continued their Jekyll and Hyde theme of the season, by winning a game after going 1-0 down for the fourth time in the last five matches. After falling behind to a superb strike, two second-half goals in seven minutes put Liverpool into the driving seat.
Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz scored the goals to fire the Reds top of Group E on their first Europa League match since the 2016 final. So where do we start when analysing this team? Do we think of the lacklustre first-half performances or how they blow teams away after the break?
On one side of the debate, Klopp must acknowledge that a more serious team such as Manchester City or Arsenal might put the game out of sight if they started so poorly. But with 13 points from 15 in the league and a win in Europe, he will be buoyed by the near-perfect start.
Florian Flecker opened the scoring for LASK with a fantastic strike from the edge of the box
Darwin Nunez converted a penalty to level the scores as Liverpool mounted a comeback
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Many LASK fans said this was the most glamorous game in the club’s history, with local newspapers carrying good luck messages to the Austrian Bundesliga on their front cover. The team responded in abundance, thriving off the raucous atmosphere in the Stehplatz Tribune.
Thomas Sageder’s team ceded lots of possession but allowed Liverpool little space in behind early on. They bullied a weak Reds midfield featuring two new signings – Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch on his full debut – plus Harvey Elliott, starting his first match of the season.
When LASK, which stands for Linzer Athletik Sport Klub, made rare forays forward, they were decisive and punished a sloppy defensive performance. They led after 13 minutes when Florian Flecker brought the ball down from a corner and fizzed in a shot from the edge of the box.
They could have had another on 29 minutes when Ibrahima Konate was outmuscled by Marin Ljubicic but the Croatian was thwarted by a last-ditch block from captain Virgil Van Dijk. In a much-weakened XI, Liverpool were lucky to have their first-choice defensive duo to save them.
Luis Diaz put Liverpool ahead as he got on the end of Ryan Gravenberch’s cross
Mo Salah nutmegged Tobias Lawal to cap off a hard-fought victory where the Reds were far from their best
Ryan Gravenberch made his full debut for Liverpool and acquitted himself well in midfield
Ben Doak was a dangerous outlet on the wing until his substitution in the second half
The Reds had chances in the first half, with Darwin Nunez twice going close – the second of which fantastically saved by Tobias Lawal at point-blank range – but it wasn’t until after the break that Klopp’s side started to really threaten.
Luis Diaz was fouled in the penalty area by Philipp Ziereis, who until that point had been by far the standout player on the pitch with an imperious defensive display, and Nunez confidently dispatched the penalty.
Seven minutes later, Elliott set the lanky Gravenberch free on the right-hand side and the Dutchman, making his full debut after a Deadline Day switch from Bayern Munich, put the ball on a plate for Diaz to fire home.
It was a credit to LASK that Klopp felt obliged to send on five senior players from the bench, including star man Mo Salah, World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister and this season’s standout star Dominik Szoboszlai. As they did at Wolves, Klopp’s substitutes were inspired.
LASK did not give up and neither did their passionate fans but ultimately they tired and Liverpool added a third on 88 minutes when Nunez combined with Salah and the Egyptian took on a player and poked home the goal through Lawal’s legs.
Lask 1-3 Liverpool stats and ratings
LIVERPOOL (4-3-3): Kelleher 7; Bajcetic 5 (Gomez 60, 6), Konate 5 (Matip 81), Van Dijk 6, Tsimikas 5; Endo 5.5 (Mac Allister 60, 6), Gravenberch 7 (Salah 75, 6), Elliott 6.5; Doak 7 (Szoboszlai 60, 6), Nunez 7, Diaz 7.5.
Subs not used: Alisson, Jaros, Jones, Gakpo, Jota, Robertson, Quansah.
Goals: Nunez 56′ (p), Diaz 63′, Salah 88′
Booked: Konate, Bajcetic.
Manager: Jurgen Klopp 7.
LASK (3-4-3): Lawal 7; Ziereis 7.5, Andrade 7, Luckender 7 (Darboe 80); Flecker 7 (Ba 88), Horvath 7, Jovicic 6.5, Renner 6 (Bello 88); Havel 6.5 (Mustapha 68, 6), Zulj 5, Ljubicic 6.5 (Kone 69, 6).
Subs not used: Siebenhandl, Talovierov, Balic, Usor, Ljubic, Stojkovic, Goiginger.
Goal: Flecker 14′
Booked: Havel, Zulj, Zieries.
Manager: Thomas Sageder 7.5.
Referee: Marco Di Bello (Ita) 6.
Attendance: not given.
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