A quickfire double from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane helped Liverpool to a 2-0 win over RB Leipzig in their UEFA Champions League last-16 first leg tie.
Due to Covid restrictions in Germany Leipzig who had won 13 of their 15 home games to date, had to play their home leg at the Puskas Arena in Budapest.
Liverpool enjoyed the lion’s share of possession early on but it was Leipzig who came closest to opening the scoring when Angelino picked out Olmo with a cross only for the Spaniard to head against the post.
Curtis Jones and Thiago dictated proceedings as the Reds dominated the opening half.
Leipzig had goalkeeper Gulacsi to thank after he closed Salah’s shot down quickly, Firmino followed up but could only find the side netting.
Sadio Mane came close when he headed over from close range after Firmino stood a cross up for him after some neat link up play with Salah down the right hand side.
Liverpool’s Brazilian spurned a good opportunity in the 27th minute as he scuffed a shot wide after some intricate passing from the Reds who were in full control at this stage.
Gulacsi, the only player playing on home turf was spared a moment of embarrassment. Having closed down Sadio Mane the ball broke to Andrew Robertson and the Scot went for the spectacular chip only to find the roof of the net from 35 yards, much to the relief of a scrambling Gulacsi.
The Reds did have the ball in the net but it was correctly ruled out by VAR after the ball had gone wide before Mane could cross for Firmino to nod home from close range.
The “home side” flew out of the traps and almost opened the scoring immediately after the restart. Dani Olmo played Nkunku in behind the Liverpool defence but Alisson was out quickly to make a smart save.
The Leipzig defence looked uncomfortable in possession all night, Salah pounced on a loose ball from Klostermann and finished well into the bottom right corner to give Klopp’s charges the ironic away goal after 53 minutes.
The Germans were the architects of their own downfall. Mane pinched the ball from the hesitant Mukiele and ran through to slot home to double Liverpool’s advantage after 58 minutes.
Leipzig introduced Poulsen to add some presence up front as they looked to get back in the game.
Angelino (twice) and Klostermann both badly miscued efforts either side of a crucial block from Andrew Robertson to deny Olmo.
Liverpool endured a late scare as Hwang got in behind Henderson but dinked his shot wide in what was the final play of the game.
A late concession would have been harsh on Klopp’s side, Alisson keeping his 50th clean sheet for the club after recent mistakes.
Nothing is finished yet, Leipzig won’t have to contend with a cauldron atmosphere at Anfield and shouldn’t fear the away leg.
RB Leipzig: Peter Gulacsi; Lukas Klostermann, Nordi Mukiele (Willi Orban 64), Dayot Upamecano; Tyler Adams, Amadou Haidara (Yussuf Poulsen 64), Kevin Kampl (Hwang Hee-chan 73), Dani Olmo, Marcel Sabitzer, Angelino; Christopher Nkunku.
Subs not used: Marcel Halstenbeg, Fabrice Hartmann, Benjamin Heinrichs, Justin Kluivert, Ibrahima Konaté, Josep Martinez, Lazar Samardzic, Alexander Soerloth.
Booked: Amadou Haidara (8), Nordi Mukiele (8), Angelino (66), Dani Olmo (76).
Liverpool: Alisson Becker; Andrew Robertson, Ozan Kabak, Jordan Henderson (c), Trent Alexander-Arnold; Curtis Jones, Thiago Alcantara (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 72), Georginio Wijnaldum; Mohamed Salah (Neco Williams 90), Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino (Xherdan Shaqiri 72).
Subs not used: Kostas Tsimikas, Nathaniel Philips, Divock Origi, Caoimhin Kelleher, Adrian del Castillo, Ben Davies, Leighton Clarkson, Jake Cain, Rhys Williams.
Booked: Ozan Kabak (69) Jordan Henderson (81).
Referee: Slavko Vincic.
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Curtis Jones (Liverpool).