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Liverpool 6-1 Sparta Prague: Reds roar into quarter-finals – 4 goals in 7 minutes!

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Liverpool made ridiculously light work out Sparta Prague in the second leg of their Europa League last-16 tie, winning 6-1 to ensure an 11-2 aggregate win.

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

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

Goals

Nunez 7′ (assist – Szoboszlai)
Clark 8′ (assist – Salah)
Salah 10′ (assist – Clark)
Gakpo 14′ (assist – Salah)
Birmancevic 42′
Szoboszlai 48′ (assist – Salah)
Gakpo 55′ (assist – Elliott)


When the teamsheet was released an hour-and-a-half from kickoff at Anfield, Jurgen Klopp‘s intentions were clear: get the job done early, with an eye on Man United at the weekend.

Klopp may not have expected the plan to go so well.

It took seven minutes for Darwin Nunez to open the scoring, clipping into the bottom corner from Dominik Szoboszlai‘s cutback after a nice, flowing move involving Bobby Clark.

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)

And then another within seconds of the restart, Nunez and Mohamed Salah pressing Ladislav Krejci into a mistake with a blocked pass out falling for Clark to score his first goal for the club on his first European start.

Sparta’s ridiculous approach was pounced on again as Clark robbed the defender and Salah bent home for 3-0 within 10 minutes.

It was 4-0 before the quarter-hour mark, with more awful defending seeing Cody Gakpo evade his marker to fire in Salah’s cross after brilliant one-touch work in the buildup.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, March 14, 2024: Liverpool's Cody Gakpo celebrates after scoring the fourth 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)

Things began to slow down as Sparta settled into a new, more compact shape, though Liverpool were not without opportunities to get their fifth.

But it was the visitors who got the next of the night, with Veljko Birmancevic breaking through and beating Caoimhin Kelleher with a finish into the bottom corner.

HT: Liverpool 4-1 Sparta Prague (9-2 agg)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, March 14, 2024: Liverpool's Dominik Szoboszlai celebrates after scoring the fifth 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)

There were three changes at the break as Nunez, Joe Gomez and Wataru Endo were half-rested with Harvey Elliott, Kostas Tsimikas and James McConnell coming on, but there was no change in momentum.

Liverpool matched the scoreline from the first leg as Szoboszlai netted three minutes after the restart, his strike deflecting in.

And then another for Gakpo, who bashfully celebrated as he turned in Elliott’s powerful strike from range, suggesting their was a measure of fortune as he made it a brace.

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)

There were more changes as the half wore on, first with Virgil van Dijk replacing Jarell Quansah and then the debuting Mateusz Musialowski on for an injured Clark.

Only the strong hands of Peter Vindahl denied Gakpo a hat-trick and one for Elliott as the minutes ticked by, before a comfortable stretch of possession saw the game out for an 11-2 aggregate win.


TIA Man of the Match: Mohamed Salah

Referee: Artur Soares Dias (POR)

Liverpool: Kelleher; Bradley, Quansah (Van Dijk 66′), Gomez (Tsimikas 46′), Robertson; Endo (McConnell 46′), Szoboszlai, Clark (Musialowski 73′); Salah, Gakpo, Nunez (Elliott 46′)

Subs not used: Adrian, Mrozek, Mac Allister, Diaz, Gordon, Koumas, Danns

Sparta Prague: Vindahl; Preciado, Vitik, Krejci, Zeleny; Solbakken, Kairinen, Laci; Birmancevic, Rynes, Kuchta

Subs not used: Vorel, Surovcik, Olatunji, Karabec, Tuci, Sadilek, Mejdr, Haraslin, Vydra, Panak, Wiesner, Sevcik

Next match: Man United (A) – FA Cup 5th Round – Sunday, March 17, 3.30pm (GMT)