Liverpool’s previous outing against the Slovenian champions resulted in a 0-7 triumph a couple of weeks back and the Merseysiders registered the Champions League record of clinching the biggest ever away win in competition’s history.
Tonight’s Anfield encounter between the Reds and the Champions League minnows NK Maribor was tipped to replicate a similar outcome and their return leg group stage fixture ended in a 3-0 win for the hosts.
The same old concern haunted the Reds during the first half when their opponents opted for a deep defensive strategy and Liverpool had no answer to break their stubborn defence. The hosts kept on playing passes and holding possession but failed to come up with anything spectacular. Roberto Firmino came close to find the back of the net, but his header was well denied by custodian Jasmin Handanovic with help from the woodwork. The Reds were extremely monotonous, slow in build ups and lacked creativity which resulted in a scoreless first half.
The deadlock was finally broken early in the second-half when Mohamed Salah calmly slotted home from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s spectacular cross. The game opened up and Roberto Firmino earned a spot-kick for his side minutes later. But it was denied by 39-year-old Handanovic sensationally. Salah had a glorious opportunity to score his second but failed to direct his header into the back of the net from Alberto Moreno’s sensational delivery. The Reds, however, finally got their insurance goal when Emre Can played a smart one-two with James Milner and slotted home with a thumping strike. It was far from over and substitute Daniel Sturridge scored his first Champions League goal in seven years when he picked up Alberto Moreno’s deflected cross and put it into the back of the net in closing minutes. The game ended in a 3-0 victory for the Reds who are now one step closer to reach the Round of 16.
Liverpool vs NK Maribor Lineups:
Liverpool: Loris Karius, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Ragnar Klavan, Alberto Moreno, Emre Can, Georginio Wijnaldum (Jordan Henderson 16′), James Milner, Mohamed Salah (Daniel Sturridge 74′), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Roberto Firmino (Marko Grujic 84′).
NK Maribor: Jasmin Handanovic, Martin Milec, Aleksander Rajcevic, Jean-Claude Billong, Marko Suler, Mitja Viler, Damjan Bohar (Gregor Bajde 67′), Aleks Pihler, Marwan Kabha, Dino Hotic (Valon Ahmedi 80′), Jasmin Mesanovic (Marcos Tavares 58′).
Liverpool vs NK Maribor Highlights:
Liverpool vs NK Maribor Match Stats:
|Shots (on Target)||23(9)||5(1)|