Champions League

Can double gets Liverpool back into big time

2017-08-23 23:15
Emre Can (Getty Images)

Liverpool - Emre Can struck twice as Liverpool convincingly defeated Hoffenheim 4-2 at Anfield on Wednesday to reach the Champions League group phase for only the second time since 2010.

Germany midfielder Can found the net twice in the opening 21 minutes, either side of Mohamed Salah's first Anfield goal following his move from Roma, before substitute Mark Uth replied for the visitors.

Hoffenheim old boy Roberto Firmino netted a fourth goal in the second half and Sandro Wagner's late header proved anecdotal as Jurgen Klopp's men completed a 6-3 aggregate victory.

Now unbeaten in 15 home games against German teams, Liverpool will learn their group-stage opponents in Thursday's draw in Monaco, which will feature five English clubs for the first time.

Liverpool join Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, who qualified via the Premier League, and Manchester United, who engineered their own Champions League return by winning last season's Europa League.

Liverpool will be making their first appearance in the Champions League proper since 2014-15, when they were eliminated in the group stage.

Klopp was once again without Barcelona target Philippe Coutinho, who is both ill and nursing a sore back, but the sizzling interplay of Firmino and Sadio Mane meant he was not missed.

The five-time European champions took a 10th-minute lead against continental first-timers Hoffenheim courtesy of the first of several delightful interchanges between their forward players.

Firmino's delicately weighted through-ball freed Mane and he back-heeled the ball into the path of Can, whose shot found the net via a heavy deflection off the sliding Havard Nordtveit.

Egyptian winger Salah struck in the 18th minute, tapping in from close range after Georginio Wijnaldum's shot from Firmino's left-wing cut-back bounced back off the right-hand post.

Three minutes later another Mane back-heel yielded another goal, the Senegal winger's touch releasing Firmino, whose cross was adroitly volleyed home by Can.

Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann took swift action, sending on forward Uth for defender Nordtveit, and four minutes later Dejan Lovren's loose pass allowed the substitute to reduce the arrears with an angled drive.

After Wijnaldum and Mane had gone close, Liverpool added a fourth in the 63rd minute when skipper Jordan Henderson robbed his Hoffenheim counterpart Kevin Vogt and charitably teed up Firmino for a tap-in.

Wagner completed the scoring with a header from Andrej Kramaric's left-wing cross, but by then all hope of a Hoffenheim comeback had vanished.

Sporting Lisbon thrashed Romanian outfit FCSB 5-1 in Bucharest as the visitors scored four second-half goals after Seydou Doumbia's 13th-minute opener was cancelled out by home defender Junior Morais.

Marcos Acuna, Gelson Martins, Bas Dost and Rodrigo Battaglia were all on target for Sporting who blew their opponents in Romania away following last week's 0-0 draw in the Portuguese capital.

Dino Ndlovu grabbed the vital goal as Qarabag became the first team from Azerbaijan to reach the group stage, qualifying on away goals despite a 2-1 defeat away to FC Copenhagen.

Georgi Schennikov and Alan Dzagoev scored as CSKA Moscow downed Switzerland's Young Boys 2-0 in Russia to wrap up a 3-0 aggregate victory, while APOEL of Cyprus progressed 2-0 overall a following goalless stalemate at Slavia Prague.


What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Tuesday, 03 April 2018
Juventus v Real Madrid, Allianz Stadium 20:45
Sevilla v Bayern Munchen, Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan 20:45
Wednesday, 04 April 2018
Liverpool v Manchester City, Anfield 20:45
Barcelona v Roma, Camp Nou 20:45
Tuesday, 10 April 2018
Manchester City v Liverpool, Etihad Stadium 20:45
Roma v Barcelona, Stadio Olimpico 20:45
Wednesday, 11 April 2018
Bayern Munchen v Sevilla, Allianz-Arena 20:45
Real Madrid v Juventus, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu 20:45
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Which English Premier League club will progress furthest in this season's Champions League?

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.