Salah scores as Liverpool qualify for Champions League group stage
Mohamed Salah scored as Liverpool earned a 4-2 victory over Hoffenheim on Wednesday to ease into the Champions League group stage with a 6-3 aggregate win.
Liverpool XI: Mignolet; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Lovren, Alberto Moreno; Henderson, Emre Can, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firminio, Mane
Hoffenheim XI: Baumann; Kadeřábek, Nordtvelt, Vogt; Hübner, Zuber, Geiger, Demirbay, Kramarić; Wagner, Gnabry.
The Reds went into Wednesday’s playoff round second-leg leading their opponents 2-1 from last week’s first-leg at the Rhein-Neckar Arena.
The hosts made a quick start to the game and carried out fast-paced attacks during the early stages of the match. Four minutes in, Sadio Mane went through on goal but German keeper Oliver Baumann made a fine save to deny him from scoring an early goal.
Liverpool continued to pile pressure on the guests until they opened the scoring after 10 minutes as Roberto Firminio sent Mane on the left flank, and the latter back-heeled the ball to Emre Can, whose shot found its way into Baumann’s net after a deflection.
The Egypt international winger got his name on the scoresheet eight minutes later, as Georginio Wijnaldum’s strike hit the post and found Salah on the right flank who slotted home from several yards away.
Liverpool were already 3-0 up after 21 minutes as Can scored his second after a powerful shot following an accurate cross from Firminio.
In the 24th minute, Hoffenheim’s 30-year-old coach Julian Nagelsmann subbed off Håvard Nordtveit for Mark Uth, who scored from a wonderful shot four minutes after coming on to reduce Liverpool’s lead.
The first half, which ended 3-1 in favour of Liverpool, was arguably one of the most entertaining halves of this season.
Ten minutes after the restart, Salah played a beautiful one-two with Wijnaldum, and the Egyptian sent Wijnaldum through on goal but the latter’s shot went wide.
Around the one-hour mark, Friminio added a fourth goal to put the game out of sight. Henderson intercepted the ball, ran into the box in a two on one situation before squaring the ball to Firminio who scored unchallenged making it 6-2 on aggregate.
The German side, however, pulled another one back 10 minutes from time as Sandro Wagner headed the ball past Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet to make it 6-3 on aggregate for the Reds.
Liverpool will know their opponents in the group stage when the draw is held on Thursday.
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