LASK 1-3 Liverpool: Mo Salah, Luis Diaz, and Darwin Nunez score as Reds mount ANOTHER comeback win after poor first half in Austria where they fell behind
Jurgen Klopp said Liverpool are in the Europa League to ‘compete and not give chances’ when asked this week if the competition was an opportunity to bleed young and fringe players. The opposite was the case for much of this match.
The Reds handed out plenty of chances by making 11 changes to the side that beat Wolves last weekend. And in the first half they didn’t participate at all. Austrian LASK were stronger, played well off the ball and took advantage of Liverpool’s many weaknesses.
But Klopp’s men continued their Jekyll and Hyde theme of the season by winning a game after trailing 1-0 for the fourth time in the last five games. After falling behind due to an excellent attack, two goals in the second half in seven minutes put Liverpool in the driver’s seat.
Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz scored the goals to fire the Reds top of Group E in their first Europa League match since the 2016 final. So where do we start when analyzing this team? Are we thinking about the poor first half performances or how they blew teams away after the break?
On one side of the debate, Klopp must acknowledge that a more serious team like Manchester City or Arsenal could lose sight of the game if they started so poorly. But with 13 points from 15 in the league and a win in Europe, he will be buoyed by a near-perfect start.
Florian Flecker opened the scoring for LASK with a fantastic strike from the edge of the penalty area
Darwin Nunez converted a penalty to level the scores as Liverpool staged a comeback
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Many LASK fans said this was the most glamorous match in the club’s history, with local newspapers running good luck messages for the Austrian Bundesliga on their fronts. The team responded abundantly and enjoyed the raucous atmosphere on the Stehplatz Grandstand.
Thomas Sageder’s team gave away a lot of possession, but gave Liverpool little room to fall behind early on. They bullied a weak Reds midfield with two new signings – Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch on his full debut – plus Harvey Elliott, who started his first game of the season.
When LASK, which stands for Linzer Athletik Sport Klub, made rare forays forward, they were decisive and punished a sloppy defensive performance. They took the lead after 13 minutes when Florian Flecker brought the ball down from a corner and smashed home a shot from the edge of the penalty area.
They could have made one more after 29 minutes when Ibrahima Konate was beaten by Marin Ljubicic, but the Croatian was thwarted by a last-ditch block from captain Virgil Van Dijk. In a badly weakened team, Liverpool were fortunate that their first-choice defensive duo could save them.
Luis Diaz gave Liverpool the lead when he got on the end of a Ryan Gravenberch cross
Mo Salah nutmegs Tobias Lawal to cap off a hard-fought win where the Reds were far from their best
Ryan Gravenberch made his full debut for Liverpool and established himself well in midfield
Ben Doak was a dangerous outlet on the flank until his substitution in the second half
The Reds had chances in the first half, with Darwin Nunez going close twice – the second of which was fantastically saved by Tobias Lawal from close range – but it was only after half-time that Klopp’s side really began to threaten.
Luis Diaz was fouled in the penalty area by Philipp Ziereis, who until then had been by far the standout player on the pitch with an imperious defensive display, and Nunez sent the penalty confidently.
Seven minutes later Elliott released the lanky Gravenberch on the right and the Dutchman, making his full debut after a Deadline Day substitution from Bayern Munich, put the ball on a plate for Diaz to fire home.
It was a credit to LASK that Klopp felt obliged to bring five senior players off the bench, including star player Mo Salah, World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister and this season’s standout Dominik Szoboszlai. As with Wolves, Klopp’s substitutes were inspired.
LASK didn’t give up and neither did their passionate fans, but eventually they tired and Liverpool added a third in the 88th minute when Nunez combined with Salah and the Egyptian to take on a player and poke the goal home through Lawal’s legs.