You are here: HomeNews2019 12 11Article 812248

Africa Sports News of Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Source: bbc.com

Champions League: Keita and Salah see Liverpool through

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said he loved that his side were "so smart" as they beat Red Bull Salzburg 2-0 to reach the Champions League last 16 as Group E winners.

The defending champions, who needed at least a point to progress, were on the ropes at times in the first half against a side who had scored 87 goals in 24 games.

But from the moment Naby Keita headed in Sadio Mane's cross, there was only going to be one winner.

Mohamed Salah clinched victory 100 seconds later with an excellent right-footed finish from a ludicrously tight angle.

"I couldn't have more respect for what Salzburg is doing," said Klopp. "I know how people see it - you think being the best team in Austria is 'OK'.

"Then you see how good they are, how good they were in the first game [the Reds won 4-3 at Anfield], how good they were against Napoli and Genk and then you could come here as the current Champions League winner and misunderstand that situation.

"And I love it, I really love it that my team is so smart that they listen and they put in a shift in like that. Salzburg was unbelievably strong, especially in the first half, but we as well were ready for that fight."

Klopp's side needed the three points to top the group because Napoli beat Genk 4-0.

The Reds will discover their Champions League last-16 opponents in Monday's draw in Nyon, Switzerland (11:00 GMT). Real and Atletico Madrid are both possible opponents.

Salzburg drop into the Europa League last 32. Their 19-year-old striker Erling Braut Haaland had chances to score but failed to become the first player to score in his first six Champions League appearances.

"It was a bit like a heavyweight boxing contest," said Salzburg boss Jesse Marsch. "We fought really hard, but they fought back. In the end they got two more punches in. That's how close the margin is between victory and defeat in the Champions League."