Mohamed Salah scored twice and assisted another two as Liverpool tore Roma to shreds in a dominant 5-2 win at Anfield.
Much of the pre-match build up was centred around Mo’ Salah facing his former club and he made the match his own, further endearing himself as a fans’ favourite.
Roma matched Liverpool’s intensity early on, De Rossi and Nainggolan pinning the midfield high up the pitch, and nearly went ahead in bizarre circumstance. A left-footed swerving rocket nearly deceived Karius but he managed to divert it onto the bar.
Liverpool, however, broke Roma’s press twice just before the half hour mark but could not capitalize. Firmino’s flick set Mane free behind the defence but the Senegalese scooped his shot over the bar with Salah waiting on the side for a tap in. Moments later, Firmino repeated the trick, leaving a defender for dead before squaring for the 25 year old to blaze over.
The Italians could not keep up the intensity and Liverpool were starting to run riot, Salah forcing a good save from Alisson Becker, and the deadlock was finally broken ten minutes from halftime by none other than Salah. The Egyptian striker collected the ball just inside the the area and struck a brilliant curler into the top corner, hitting the underside of the bar before nestling into the net for his 42nd goal of the season.
Liverpool continued to create a host of chances and Salah would not be denied his second on the stroke of halftime. A van Dijk clearance found Salah and the former Chelsea youngster exchanged passes with Firmino before deftly flicking the ball over the keeper for his ninth goal of the UCL season.
The halftime break did not halt Liverpool’s momentum and Salah turned provider for Mane to prod in the third goal ten minutes into the second half. A diagonal ball from deep found Salah in acres of space and his low cross was turned in by the grateful Mane.
The third of the Fab Trio, Firmino, soon joined in the act and Salah was once again the protagonist. Left in acres of space on the right hand channel for the umpteenth time, Salah slalomed past a defender before setting up the Brazilian striker for a tap in at the back post to all but seal the tie. Four became five on 69 minutes, and a second goal for Firmino, as the former Hoffenheim striker was afforded the easiest of header from James Milner’s corner kick.
Klopp substituted Salah to a standing ovation, his players took their feet off the pedal and Roma seized the opportunity.
Edin Dzeko brought down a cross beautifully in the six yard box and beat Karius at his near post to give Roma a consolation goal which could prove vital in the second leg.
Just like has happened already this season, panic mode set in and the Giallorossi further reduced the deficit from the penalty spot.
Nainggolan’s shot struck Milner’s hand and Perotti sent Karius the wrong way. The away team pressed on for a third goal but could not further reduce the deficit and an entertaining return leg is expected at the Stadio Olimpico next week.