Home News Easy work but a tough draw to come – 5 talking points...

Easy work but a tough draw to come – 5 talking points from Liverpool 6-1 Sparta

12
0

Liverpool were already through, let’s be clear, but the second leg against Sparta Prague brought plenty more goals and a first senior strike for Bobby Clark.

Liverpool 6-1 Sparta Prague (11-2 agg)

Europa League Last 16, 2nd Leg – Anfield
March 14, 2024

Goals: Nunez 7′, Clark 8′, Salah 10′, Gakpo 14′, 55′, Szoboszlai 48′; Birmancevic 42′

 

A rapid start from the Reds

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, March 14, 2024: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez (L) celebrates with team-mate Dominik Szoboszlai after scoring the first goal during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 2nd Leg match between Liverpool FC and AC Sparta Praha at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Goals were on the menu almost right from kick-off, with Liverpool four up inside a quarter of an hour at Anfield thanks to four goals in six minutes and 55 seconds!

Obviously that’s extreme but, even so, early goals haven’t always been the Reds’ forte – instead we’ve been big finishers to fixtures this term, coming from behind or sealing late wins in epic fashion.

As such, this was a nice change: we had already won the tie but were relentless from kick-off and very, very clinical.

It’s a very different kind of match for supporters to watch, but no less enjoyable for that: less stress, more chances to watch, different goalscorers and constant enjoyment in the knowledge the win is coming.

Couldn’t do the same again at the weekend, could we? Please!

 

Clark announces himself as a senior to be trusted

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, March 14, 2024: Liverpool's Bobby Clark celebrates after scoring the second goal during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 2nd Leg match between Liverpool FC and AC Sparta Praha at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

We’ve given a lot of young players a chance this season once more; some by necessity, some through opportunity.

There’s of course a group of them who have years of development ahead of them, time on their side and work to do to become established figures.

But just like Jarell Quansah has earned Jurgen Klopp‘s trust and become part of the first team furniture, so too has Clark shown he’s perfectly capable right now of being an option for the Reds.

A goal and an assist on the night was a perfect way to announce himself on the European stage – one well-taken strike when through one-on-one and his set-up for Salah courtesy of some great pressing work.

Good work rate throughout and a big Klopp bear hug when he came off – what more could you ask for.

 

Salah looks ready for the run-in

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, March 14, 2024: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 2nd Leg match between Liverpool FC and AC Sparta Praha at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Perhaps we can all be surprised that Mohamed Salah played the full 90 minutes of a dead rubber Europa League clash, but after weeks out injured the run-out was clearly deemed to do him good.

And it’s hard to argue against the case on the evidence of his end product.

One goal, three assists, even if only in a technical sense. The No.11 was alert and sharp, had a good first touch the majority of the time and kept looking for openings and opportunities, right until the end of the game.

Having missed a good chunk of games between AFCON and injury, let’s hope this is him building back to full capacity for the season finale.

 

Europa campaign – in our hands but strong contenders

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, March 14, 2024: Liverpool's Harvey Elliott and Cody Gakpo celebrate the sixth goal during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 2nd Leg match between Liverpool FC and AC Sparta Praha at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

By common consent, Liverpool’s big challengers for the Europa League are Bayer Leverkusen, led by Xabi Alonso, a potential new boss at Anfield next season.

Qarabag came close to knocking them out, but the German team incredibly scored twice in injury time to turn the tie on its head and progress to the quarter-finals.

While it isn’t good for Liverpool that they are through, it is the type of mentality we like to see instilled into a team.

Meanwhile, another of the potential new manager candidates, Ruben Amorim, saw his Sporting CP side knocked out by Atalanta. That means three of the seven sides left as potential opponents are from Italy.

Villarreal, Benfica, West Ham… these teams are decent and must be respected, but we are clearly better than them.

Nothing taken for granted, of course, but Dublin looks a big step closer for the Reds after tonight.

 

Onto United – keep the quadruple bid intact

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, March 14, 2024: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 2nd Leg match between Liverpool FC and AC Sparta Praha at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

At this stage, it doesn’t matter much if individuals think Liverpool are capable of winning all four trophies, or indeed if we go on to do so.

What matters is being good enough to potentially do so, having the players performing at the level which enable us to and having enough match-winners on their game so that, no matter who we play, fans have hope. Fans know there’s a chance.

Beyond that, what will be will be on any given matchday. There’s little we can do about a fifth-minute red card, a Diaz-esque abysmal officiating decision and so on.

And that means we continue exactly as we have done, at the weekend, against Manchester United.

We already know were miles better than they are – we just have to show it during that particular 90 minutes. Spank them, and onto the international break we go, one trophy down and three more still possible. Up the Reds.