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Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were clinicians when it mattered most, as Liverpool returned home with a two-goal lead over RB Leipzig.
Liverpool survived an early scare when RB Leipzig rattled the post within five minutes.
Defender Angelino found space on the left before selecting Dani Olmo in the area. The Spaniard’s header crashed into the inside of the post and Jurgen Klopp’s men narrowly avoided the worst possible start.
Liverpool then turned down a glorious opportunity to exploit their opponent’s dangerously high line.
Mohamed Salah was released with the entire Leipzig defensive line in the Liverpool half, but the Egyptian couldn’t find the killer pass when he was finally forced to enter.
Salah was proving to be the visitors’ most powerful threat, coming close moments later after a direct pass from Trent Alexander-Arnold.
However, former Red Peter Gulacsi was up to the task and stood tall to block Salah’s effort from close range.
Liverpool made three shots in the first 20 minutes against Leipzig:
– Squawka Soccer (@Squawka) February 16, 2021
Liverpool had taken control of the match with Sadio Mane on the next line to try their luck.
A precise cross from Roberto Firmino found Mane at the far post, but under severe pressure from Nordi Mukiele, he saw his header float harmlessly over the bar.
A goal seemed inevitable, but few would have predicted a 40-yard shot from Andrew Robertson that almost came true.
Gulacsi was caught out of line after running out of his area to sweep a counter. Robertson held on to the rebound and placed a long-range effort just above the bar as Gulacsi dived deep into his own net to try to avoid disaster.
Leipzig almost grabbed Liverpool immediately after the break, but Alisson came to the rescue to deny Christopher Nkunku after Jordan Henderson was beaten by pace.
That failure would prove to be pivotal moments later when the ever-dangerous Salah capitalized on a missed pass.
The forward reacted quicker to grab onto the errant pass and showed great composure to send the goalkeeper down the wrong path and shoot home hard and low to put one up next to him.
Salah does it again for Liverpool! 🙌
24 goals for the season now 🔥🔥
The Reds needed it! pic.twitter.com/399BON6cPa
– Football at BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 16, 2021
One soon became two when Leipzig’s high defensive line was brutally exposed.
A simple long ball over the top caught Mukiele in flight. Mane swooped in and scored Liverpool’s second with an incredibly similar run and finish to Salah just minutes earlier.
The pair almost combined for a third, but Mane appeared to be surprised by the disguise on a Salah pass that would have given him a one-on-one with Gulacsi.
Angelino and Marcel Sabitzer made a mistake when Leipzig went out looking for an answer. In truth, Liverpool seemed to be the more likely of the two teams to score the next goal of the game.
However, Liverpool’s attention gradually turned to preserving what they had, and they successfully watched the remainder of the game to take a 2-0 lead in the second leg at Anfield.