Liverpool learn earliest they can qualify for Europa League knockouts after late twist

Liverpool have firmly taken control of Group E of the Europa League, with victory over Toulouse showing them their earliest route to the knockout stages.

The Reds made light work of their Ligue 1 opposition on Thursday night, as goals from Diogo Jota, Wataru Endo, Darwin Nunez, Ryan Gravenberch and Mo Salah earned a 5-1 win.

It was their third win in three in the Europa League, and kept them top of Group E having seen off LASK and Union SG already.

Three points also saw them take control of their destiny in the competition, with a five-point lead over both Union SG and Toulouse.

With that, Jurgen Klopp and his players know victory in the next game away to Toulouse on November 9 will be enough to secure progress from their group.

However, a late victory for Union SG in their home clash with LASK – defender Christian Burgess netting in the 94th minute to win 2-1 – means Liverpool would only be guaranteed a place in the last 16 if the Belgian side fail to win on the same night.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, October 26, 2023: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the UEFA Europa League Group E matchday 3 game between Liverpool FC and Toulouse FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If Union SG were to beat LASK again, it would mean a wait until the next match – for the Reds, the visit of LASK on November 30 – to secure progress to that stage.

Topping the group, which is still possible next time out, is the only way to guarantee a spot in the last 16.

Clubs who finish second in their Europa League groups instead progress to the playoff round, along with the eight sides who finished third in their Champions League groups.

It means Europa League vs. Champions League in each two legged-tie, with the winners joining the eight group winners in the next knockout stage proper.

Top spot in Group E is in Liverpool’s hands, but in his post-match press conference Klopp insisted: “Before we play Toulouse again we play three games, there’s a lot that can happen between now and then.

“I would like to play them all one after the other and not making too big steps [mentally].”

Up next are Nottingham Forest, before trips to Bournemouth and Luton precede the journey to Toulouse.