Well versed in the peril of three-goal advantages, Liverpool took a 3-0 lead over Spartak Moscow to the interval and did not look back, securing Group E honours courtesy of a 7-0 victory Wednesday at Anfield.
Once favourites to win the group until it surrendered a three-goal lead to Sevilla on Matchday 5, Liverpool is off to the knockout stage for the first time since 2008-09. The Spaniards will join the Reds in the last-16 after a 1-1 draw at Slovenians Maribor, while Spartak is off to the Europa League by virtue of finishing third in the group.
Philippe Coutinho was at his best, pairing a fourth-minute penalty with a slick finish 11 minutes later. Roberto Firmino made it 3-0 nil moments later, giving the Brazilian six goals in the group stage, which set a club record. It was a fitting standard for a dazzling front-three made up of Firmino, Mohamed Salah, and Sadio Mane against a helpless Spartak side.
Mane got a deserved goal seconds after the interval when the Senegalese winger pivoted to volley a looping cross from substitute James Milner, capping off a feverish display from a side adept at smothering attacks.
As if that wasn’t enough, Coutinho got his first Liverpool hat-trick moments later when the Brazilian took advantage of some drab defending from a Spartak side whose second-half showing verged on capitulation. Mane would get Liverpool’s sixth with 15 minutes to play, and Salah would make it 7-0 thanks to a straightforward finish on the edge of the six-yard box.
Liverpool’s victory means that, for the first time in Champions League history, there will be five sides from the same country among the last-16, with Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, and Chelsea all joining Klopp’s side in the next phase.
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