Champions League

Salah, Can, Sturridge keep Liverpool on course

2017-11-02 07:33
Daniel Sturridge (Getty Images)

Liverpool - Second-half goals from Mohamed Salah, Emre Can and Daniel Sturridge moved Liverpool closer to the Champions League knockout phase after the five-time European champions beat Maribor 3-0 on Wednesday.

Liverpool had crushed Maribor 7-0 in the reverse fixture two weeks ago, but had to be content with three goals at Anfield as the Slovenian champions belatedly tightened things up at the back.

Victory, coupled with Sevilla's 2-1 defeat of Spartak Moscow, left Liverpool a point clear at the top of Group E, keeping their hopes of a first appearance in the knockout rounds since 2008-09 in their own hands.

"The group is maybe the most interesting in the Champions League," Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp told BT Sport.

"Nothing is decided. If you want to play in February, you have to win your games."

Klopp, who also saw James Milner squander a penalty, takes his team to Sevilla on the next match-day later this month before they close the group stage at home to Spartak in early December.

Klopp's plan to rest Jordan Henderson had to be rethought in the 17th minute when Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum turned his right ankle, which brought the Reds skipper into the fray.

Klopp revealed Wijnaldum's ankle was swollen, which he said was "not a good sign".

With Maribor defending deep in a 5-4-1 formation, Liverpool struggled to create chances in the first half.

The closest they came to breaking through was when Roberto Firmino's header from Trent Alexander-Arnold's cross flicked off Jean-Claude Billong and had to be clawed onto the bar by visiting goalkeeper Jasmin Handanovic.

Salah soothed the home fans' jitters four minutes into the second half when he darted in front of Aleksander Rajcevic to glance Alexander-Arnold's right-wing cross past Handanovic with a shinned volley.

The Egypt winger has now scored 10 Liverpool goals since his close-season move from Roma.

Milner squandered an opportunity to double Liverpool's lead moments later when his penalty was touched onto the post by Handanovic after Firmino was unceremonially hauled back by Rajcevic.

It was the fourth time Liverpool had failed to score a penalty at Anfield in 2017 and came hot on the heels of Salah's unsuccessful effort during Saturday's 3-0 win over Huddersfield Town.

Handanovic saved with his feet from Firmino before Can made it 2-0 in the 64th minute, slickly exchanging passes with Milner and coolly slotting the ball into the bottom-right corner from the edge of the box.

Substitute Sturridge completed the scoring in the last minute, lashing home at the back post from Alberto Moreno's cross to notch his first Champions League goal in Liverpool's colours.

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Fixtures
Tuesday, 21 November 2017
Spartak Moskva v Maribor, Otkrytiye Arena 19:00
Besiktas v Porto, Vodafone Stadyumu 19:00
Sevilla v Liverpool, Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan 21:45
Manchester City v Feyenoord, Etihad Stadium 21:45
APOEL v Real Madrid, Neo GSP 21:45
Borussia Dortmund v Tottenham Hotspur, Signal-Iduna-Park 21:45
Monaco v RB Leipzig, Stade Louis II. 21:45
Napoli v Shakhtar Donetsk, Stadio San Paolo 21:45
Wednesday, 22 November 2017
Qarabag v Chelsea, Bakı Olimpiya Stadionu 19:00
CSKA Moskva v Benfica, VEB Arena 19:00
Juventus v Barcelona, Allianz Stadium 21:45
Sporting CP v Olympiakos Piraeus, Estadio Jose Alvalade 21:45
Atletico Madrid v Roma, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 21:45
PSG v Celtic, Parc des Princes 21:45
Basel v Manchester United, St. Jakob-Park 21:45
Anderlecht v Bayern Munchen, Stade Constant Vanden Stock 21:45
Tuesday, 05 December 2017
Bayern Munchen v PSG, Allianz-Arena 21:45
Barcelona v Sporting CP, Camp Nou 21:45
Celtic v Anderlecht, Celtic Park 21:45
Benfica v Basel, Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (da Luz) 21:45
Manchester United v CSKA Moskva, Old Trafford 21:45
Olympiakos Piraeus v Juventus, Stadio Georgios Karaiskaki 21:45
Roma v Qarabag, Stadio Olimpico 21:45
Chelsea v Atletico Madrid, Stamford Bridge 21:45
Wednesday, 06 December 2017
Liverpool v Spartak Moskva, Anfield 21:45
Porto v Monaco, Estadio Do Dragao 21:45
Real Madrid v Borussia Dortmund, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu 21:45
Maribor v Sevilla, Ljudski vrt 21:45
Shakhtar Donetsk v Manchester City, Oblasny SportKomplex Metalist 21:45
RB Leipzig v Besiktas, Red Bull Arena 21:45
Feyenoord v Napoli, Stadion Feijenoord 21:45
Tottenham Hotspur v APOEL, Wembley Stadium 21:45
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