Mo Salah makes history as Liverpool run riot to punish Sparta Prague – 5 talking points –
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Mo Salah makes history as Liverpool run riot to punish Sparta Prague – 5 talking points




Football has sprung its fair share of shocks down the years, but the odds were always firmly stacked against Sparta Prague at Anfield on Thursday evening.

Liverpool came into the Europa League round of 16 tie boasting a 5-1 lead on aggregate following the first leg demolition job and never ever looked like they were going to be on the wrong end of a stunning upset. Quite the opposite in fact, as they ran out 6-1 winners and Jurgen Klopp’s men have now gone 31 games unbeaten on their own patch across all competitions.

In turn, they have booked their place in the last eight of the Europa League ahead of Friday’s draw. Darwin Nunez sent them on their way with just six minutes on the clock after a neat finish following Dominik Szoboszlai’s cut-back.

It marked the opening of the floodgates, with Bobby Clark, Mohamed Salah and Cody Gakpo all joining Nunez on the scoresheet before we’d reached the 15 minute mark. The entire front three managed to get on the scoresheet inside 13 minutes. A lull in the game followed, before Prague restored the faintest bit of pride with a goal of their own, courtesy of Veljko Birmancevic.


The second-half started in similar fashion to the first, with Szoboszlai’s deflected strike ensuring that Liverpool put five past Prague for the second successive game. It also meant the Reds have scored five goals in a single game five times this term.

Minutes later and Gakpo bagged a brace. At first, it looked like Harvey Elliot’s strike had managed to evade everyone and nestle into the bottom corner, but replays showed that their Dutch forward had actually backheeled it in deft fashion to guide it home.

Mirror Football has analysed five talking points from Liverpool’s dominant victory that seals their place in the Europa League quarter-final.

1. Salah makes history

For the first time since New Years Day, Liverpool’s talismanic forward Salah was named in the starting line-up for Klopp’s side. Some were surprised by just how strong the Reds boss decided to go when it came to his line-up for this clash, with just four changes from Sunday’s draw against Manchester City.


It was the inclusion of Salah that had everyone talking, with the Egypt international making his first start since sustaining an injury while away on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations. He was brought off the bench against City, but didn’t have as much time as he’d have liked to weave his magic.

However, he had an instant impact in this clash, netting Liverpool’s third and writing his name into Reds history in the process. Salah’s strike made him the first player in the club’s history to score 20 or more goals across all competitions in seven successive seasons.

It wasn’t the plan to let Salah play the full 90 minutes, but after Clark pulled up with an injury at a stage where the Reds only had one sub left to make – the Egyptian was left with little choice but to stay on.

2. Nunez finding form at the right time

Much has been made of some of Nunez’s profligate finishing since he arrived at Anfield in the summer of 2022, but he’s certainly found his feet now.


The Uruguay international has managed nine goals in his last 11 appearances and is sitting on 17 goals across all competitions so far this season. He still misses the odd glaring chance – he did again this evening, all strikers do, but Nunez doesn’t seem to dwell on it as much anymore.

His sitter 35 minutes in was met with a smile from both him and Klopp.

The 24-year-old could sense there were goals for him in this game from the very first whistle and it came as little surprise when he netted the opener. If Liverpool are to end this campaign with an impressive trophy haul, Nunez will have to keep up this kind of form long after the upcoming international break.

Klopp opted to try and keep the former Benfica ace as fresh as possible, withdrawing Nunez at the interval with an eye on Sunday’s cup clash.

3. Prague’s woeful defending


Sparta Prague held an on-pitch inquest to try and stop Liverpool’s flurry of goals

“Wasteful”, “woeful” and a “kamikaze of mistakes” was how Joe Cole opted to describe Sparta Prague’s first-half defending. The former Chelsea and Liverpool ace event went as far to suggest that an under-15’s side would have done better than the Czech outfit.

The sad thing is he can’t be accused of exaggerating. Whatever boss Brian Priske told them the game plan was before kick-off, it certainly couldn’t have been that.

Some may say its admirable that Prague stuck to their guns and continued to try and play out from the back, but it was so clearly to their detriment. Liverpool’s second and third goals came directly from mistakes made by their visitors, who couldn’t seem to find a team-mate with their passing, let alone get out of their own half early on.

Things didn’t improve much in the second half, with Liverpool netting another two to make it six on the night.

4. Bobby Clark’s fine finish


19-year-old Bobby Clark is the latest Reds youngster to get on the scoresheet and he managed to do so barely 60 seconds after Nunez fired Liverpool in front.

Capitalising on some woeful defending from the visitors, Clark kept his composure to fire his left-footed strike under the onrushing Peter Vindahl Jensen. It was a proud moment for the talented teenager, but Klopp was equally beaming from the touchline.

He came close to adding a second mid-way through the first-half, sending one Prague defender completely the wrong way with a delightful dummy, but Clark could only fire his strike straight into the palms of the goalkeeper.

Beyond his goal, the Reds academy graduate showed the kind of technical ability and composure on the ball that will stand the club in good stead long after Klopp’s departure. His game ended earlier than expected with an injury, though it didn’t appear too serious.

5. Fairytale farewell still on


Jurgen Klopp was all smiles as his Liverpool side ran riot

Liverpool have already got this season’s Carabao Cup in their trophy cabinet following last month’s success, but every member of the Reds squad will be desperate to win four from four before bidding farewell to the manager.

Every member will also know that far tougher games await Liverpool than this one, but it sets the tone for what is another huge game that awaits them this coming weekend. Sunday sees the Reds travel to Old Trafford knowing a place in the FA Cups semi-final is at stake.

If they can get past Manchester United, there will be even more belief that Liverpool can give Klopp both of the domestic cup competitions at the very least as a parting gift. Though the title is still on the cards, and this performance tonight suggests that the Reds have no interest in taking it easy in the Europa League.

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