Mohammed Salah saved Liverpool from embarrassment in the Champions League, after Jurgen Klopp’s side had squandered a three-goal lead against Red Bull Salzburg at Anfield.
Liverpool were in desperate need of a win after they lost their opening game of the competition away at Napoli.
The Reds were three goals up in just over half an hour, with Sadio Mane, Andrew Robertson and Salah all finding the net.
But Salzburg’s Hwang Hee-Chan pulled one back before half time, before second half goals from Takumi Minamino and Erling Braut Haaland levelled the scores at 3-3.
Jesse Marsch’s men threatened to snatch a memorable victory on their first ever visit of Anfield, but Salah pounced with 20 minutes remaining to score what proved to be the winning goal.
How it happened
Liverpool have produced some stunning comebacks in Europe over the years, but they were almost on the receiving end of one on a chilly evening at Anfield.
They were at their scintillating best in the opening half an hour – Mane produced an assured finish before the game was 10 minutes old, as he effortlessly cut in from the left-hand side and played a delightful one-two with Roberto Firmino.
15 minutes later, Liverpool’s fullbacks combined as a pinpoint cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold was met by Andrew Robertson, who tucked away his first European goal with ease.
Salah sent Salzburg a warning sign when he fired a half-volley just wide from 20 yards after half an hour – the Egyptian added a third just a few minutes later.
A Mane cross was flicked towards goal by Firmino, and Salzburg goalkeeper Cican Stankovic could only parry the ball into the path of Salah who prodded home from five yards.
Klopp’s men looked to be cruising towards a routine win, with the Austrian side offering very little resistance.
But they were handed a lifeline when South Korean forward Hwang wriggled away from his marker on the edge of the box, cut inside Virgil Van Dijk and fired across Adrian into the far corner.
The goal provided a lift for the travelling support, and Marsch’s side came out looking like a different side after the break.
As Salzburg began to grow in confidence, the game opened up ten minutes into the second half, with chances blocked at either end, before the lively Minamino popped up unmarked at the back post to guide a difficult volley into the ground and past Adrian.
With Liverpool’s lead cut to one, even their more experienced players began to look panicky on the ball – the usually unflappable Fabinho repeatedly lost possession in a frenetic five-minute spell.
Domonik Szoboszlai missed a golden opportunity to equalise when he was picked out in space in the box but took too long to get his shot off.
But Liverpool’s mistakes continued, and teenager Haaland who started the game on the bench tucked home the equaliser, and his 18th goal in 11 games amid some poor defending.
Liverpool had previously gone five European home games without conceding but had shipped three goals in a frantic 30 minutes.
Klopp’s troops rallied though, and when Firmino flicked a header forward from the edge of the box, Salah clinically fired past Stankovic to put his side back in front.
Salzburg searched in vain for another equaliser, but Liverpool regained their composure to see out a thrilling victory and put their pursuit of a seventh European title back on track.
Liverpool will now prepare for the visit of Leicester City on Saturday, who currently sit third in the Premier League after a strong start to the season.
The Reds’ Champions League journey continues in two weeks when they travel to Belgian side Genk, who earned a credible draw with Napoli earlier tonight.
(Jurgen Klopp – Pic by Ruaraidh Gillies under Creative Commons licence)