Liverpool find their home form a thousand miles away to progress in Champions League

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Liverpool re-discovered their scoring touch, restored some confidence, and kept their season alive by reaching the Champions League quarter-finals. . . Two goals in the space of four second-half minutes from Mo Salah and Sadio Mane secured what, in the end, was a comfortable 2-0 victory on the night – and 4-0 on aggregate – over Leipzig in Budapest. . . But Jurgen Klopps team made far harder work of it than they should have after missing chance after chance in the first 70 minutes. . . If Leipzig had nicked one back, it would have set the nerves jangling for Liverpool but Salahs goal eased any fears of a fightback by the Germans. . . Salah, who was guilty of the mistake that led to Fulhams winner on Sunday, made amends with a trademark goal, taking a pass from Diogo Jota and cutting in from the left to fire a shot into the bottom corner of the net. . . It was technically Liverpools first goal from open play at home in 2021 – even though the game was being staged in the Hungarian capital because of the pandemic. . . You could sense the relief from the Liverpool team who have found goals too hard to come in recent weeks – just seven in their last 12 Premier League games. . . And four minutes later Mane added the second with a first-time close-range finish from a superb cross by substitute Divock Origi. . . After six successive defeats, it was probably something of a relief to play the home leg a thousand miles away from Merseyside in the Ferenc Puskas Stadium, which also staged the first leg. . . Since that game, the form of the two teams had been in stark contrast. Leipzig had won all four of their games to move into second place in the Bundesliga while Liverpool had lost three of their four matches to slip to eighth in the Premier League. . . But with Fabinho restored to midfield for the first time since Virgil van Dijks injury in the Merseyside derby on October 17, Liverpool looked far more like their old selves. . . And Klopp will hope this will be the springboard for improved form in the Premier League where they need to make up ground to finish in the top four. If they dont manage that, then they will have to win the Champions League to make sure they are in it next season. . . But when it comes to Europe, you can rarely doubt Liverpool. It wouldnt surprise anyone with their pedigree if they went all the way to the final and made a nonsense of their domestic form. . . Liverpool could have eased any anxieties and had their place in the last eight booked by half-time. But once again their decision-making and finishing in the final third lacked the clinical precision that was the hallmark of the previous two seasons. . . Thiago was the first culprit when he was presented with a clear shooting opportunity but elected to pass to Salah and Kevin Kampl got across to clear the danger. . . Mane volleyed over from a tight angle after chesting down a lofted pass by Georgino Wijnaldum and Jota saw his powerful header from Trent Alexander-Arnolds corner tipped over by Peter Gulacsi. . . But the best chances fell to Salah and Mane in a crazy moment after 23 minutes. . . Thiagos sent Salah racing through the Leipzig defence but his shot was parried by Gulacsi and Mane couldnt convert the rebound with his attempted header as the ball took an awkward bounce. The scramble continued with Salahs second attempt to convert blocked before Mane hooked the fourth attempt over the bar. . . Alexander-Arnold, like Thiago earlier, passed up great shooting chance and instead his attempt to set up Salah was thwarted by Upemecano. . . The wasted chances continued when Jota fired straight at Gulacsi after bursting through and on the stroke of half-time, the former Wolves man wasted the best opening of all when he fired into the side netting after a mistake by Upemercano. . . Despite having so many clear-cut chances, there were one or two scares for Liverpool at the other end. Alisson came to their rescue early on when he blocked Danny Olmos close-range shot while Emil Forsberg fired just wide. . . Leipzig made a change at half-time, sending on Alexander Sorloth for midfielder Kevin Kampl but Liverpools wastefulness continued. Jota didnt know he was offside when he was put through by Mane and shot straight at Gulacsi with Salah lofting the rebound over the bar. The offside flag spared both their blushes but the misses wouldnt have done anything for the confidence of either player. . . It looked like it was going to be another frustrating night and there was a scare when Sorloths header hit the bar. . . But Salah finally ended the agony and Manes goal made it an even better night for a mightily relieved Liverpool. . . Liverpool 4-3-3. Alisson 7 Alexander-Arnold 7, Phillips 7, Kabak 6, Robertson 7 Tsimikas 89 Thiago 7 Keita 71, 6, Fabinho 7, Wijnaldum 7 Milner 82, 5 Salah 7, Mane 7 Oxlade-Chamberlain 89, Jota 6 Origi 71, 6. . . Subs not used. Adrian, Jones, Shaqiri, B. Davies, N. Williams, R. Williams, Harvey Davies. . . RB Leipzig 3-4-3. Gulacsi 8 Mukiele 6, Upamecano 6, Klostermann 6 Adams 6, Kampl 5 Sorloth 46, 6 Sabitzer 6, Nkuku 6 Olmo 6, Poulsen 5 Hwang 60, 5, Forsberg 5 Kluivert 60, 5. Subs not used. Orban, Konate, Samardzic, Halstenberg, Martinez, Henrichs.


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