Liverpool 3-0 Maribor: Mo Salah, Emre Can and Daniel Sturridge help Reds move clear in Group E
By Michael Hincks
Last Updated: 02/11/17 9:27am
Liverpool moved one point clear at the top of their Champions League group following a 3-0 victory over Maribor at Anfield.
Maribor were a far cry from the side that shipped seven against Liverpool a fortnight ago as they frustrated the hosts in a goalless first half.
However, Mohamed Salah's flick (49) broke the deadlock, and while Liverpool's penalty woes continued when James Milner saw his penalty saved, Emre Can put the game beyond doubt (64) with a delightful finish.
Daniel Sturridge came off the bench to slam home a third (90), and Liverpool now know that victory over Sevilla - who beat Spartak Moscow 2-1 to move second - on November 21 will book their place in the knockout stages with a game to spare.
Liverpool: Karius (6), Alexander-Arnold (7), Matip (6), Klavan (6), Moreno (7), Can (8), Milner (8), Wijnaldum (6), Salah (8), Oxlade-Chamberlain (7), Firmino (7)
Subs: Henderson (6), Sturridge (7), Grujic (6)
Maribor: Handanovic (8), Billong (8), Rajcevic (7), Suler (6), Milec (7), Pihler (5), Kabha (6), Viler (6), Bohar (6), Hotic (6), Mesanovic (5)
Subs: Tavares (6), Bajde (6), Ahmedi (6)
Man of the match: Emre Can
Following Liverpool's 7-0 win over Maribor a fortnight ago, there were high expectations for a repeat performance at Anfield, but the visitors kept Jurgen Klopp's men at bay early on.
Despite recording 83.5% possession in the first half, Liverpool could only direct two on target, and the closest they came to breaking the deadlock was when Jasmin Handanovic tipped Roberto Firmino's heavily-deflected effort onto the bar.
Four minutes after the break however, relief erupted around Anfield as Salah turned home Trent Alexander-Arnold's cross.
Philippe Coutinho and Dejan Lovren did not return for Liverpool. Loris Karius, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Emre Can and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all came into the starting XI.
One blip for Liverpool was the sight of another missed penalty. After Firmino was tugged to the ground, Milner stepped up following Salah's miss on the weekend, but ended up seeing his spot-kick well saved by Handanovic.
Liverpool did double their lead through Can, who played a neat one-two with Milner before curling one into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Sturridge was only a late introduction, but he got his first Champions League goal for Liverpool when slamming one past Handanovic from Alberto Moreno's cross.
- Liverpool have kept four clean sheets in their last five games in all competitions, after managing none in the seven games before that.
- Maribor are without a win in their last 15 Champions League games (D5 L10).
- Mohamed Salah has registered 13 goal involvements in all competitions for Liverpool this season (10 goals, 3 assists), more than any other player for the Reds.
- Liverpool have failed to score with five of their last seven penalties in all competitions, including each of their last three.
Man of the match - Emre Can
Emre Can commanded the game along with James Milner, and it was the two who linked up beautifully for the German's 64th-minute strike.
The duo mopped up everything Maribor had to offer, with Can making more tackles (four) than any other player on the pitch.
It leaves Klopp with a welcome headache in midfield having opted for the 23-year-old over Henderson, though Can will likely retain his place against West Ham after an injury to Georginio Wijnaldum.
Jurgen Klopp: "It was a similar situation to the Huddersfield game - an even more defensive side.
"We did the same things wrong, wrong positions, not enough balls in behind. We didn't create enough - that may be the summary of it.
"They changed completely their usual style. The start was good, we had a few good moments. We had to adjust in the second half and the boys did really well and decided the game, that's it."
Liverpool face West Ham in the Premier League's evening kick-off on Saturday as they look to close the gap on the top five.