Home News Sparta Prague 1-5 Liverpool: Nunez double as Salah returns

Sparta Prague 1-5 Liverpool: Nunez double as Salah returns

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Liverpool have more than one foot in the Europa League quarter finals after a comfortable 4-1 win in Prague.

Sparta Prague 1-5 Liverpool

Europa League last-16, First Leg; Stadion Letna
March 7, 2024

Goals

Mac Allister 06′ (pen)
Nunez 25′
Nunez 45+3” (assist: Mac Allister)
Bradley (OG) 46′
Diaz 53′ (assist: Elliott)
Szoboszlai 90+4


With the visit of Man City to Anfield in three days time, it was a slight surprise to see such a strong lineup selection from Jurgen Klopp, with just three changes from the side that started at Nottingham Forest at the weekend.

In came Darwin Nunez for his first start in five games since injury – he’d go on to fire a superb first-half double to put the match and the tie to bed.

Also coming into the side were Jarell Quansah and Wataru Endo – the latter another returning from injury in a major boost.

It was the perfect start for the Reds, Alexis Mac Allister winning and then converting a penalty in the sixth minute.

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - Thursday, March 7, 2024: Liverpool's Alexis Mac Allister scores the first goal from a penalty kick during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 1st Leg match between AC Sparta Praha and Liverpool FC at Stadion Letná. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A superb save from Caoimhin Kelleher and a goal line clearance from Joe Gomez denied the hosts an equaliser soon after and the Irish stopper made another good save – before Nunez fired his 15th goal of the season in spectacular fashion.

It was an absolute blockbuster, firing from 25 yards – the 1,000th goal scored for Klopp’s Liverpool.

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - Thursday, March 7, 2024: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez (R) celebrates with team-mate Luis Díaz after scoring the second goal during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 1st Leg match between AC Sparta Praha and Liverpool FC at Stadion Letná. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Nunez then struck a lovely half volley in first half stoppage time to not only put the match on the night but the tie as a whole to bed.

Half time: Sparta Prague 0-3 Liverpool

  • Nunez fires 1,000th goal for LFC under Klopp
  • Potential injury for Konate a major concern
  • Salah returns for last 17 minutes
  • Second leg at Anfield in a week

A half time change saw Conor Bradley replace Joe Gomez, but it was a nightmare introduction for the young right-back, who misplaced a clearance into his own net within a minute of the restart.

The Reds’ three-goal lead, though, was restored within 10 minutes when Luis Diaz finished from inside the box after nice work down the right from the Reds.

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - Thursday, March 7, 2024: Liverpool's Luis Díaz scores the fourth goal during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 1st Leg match between AC Sparta Praha and Liverpool FC at Stadion Letná. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

That Diaz goal arrived just after a major concern, with Ibrahima Konate limping off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.

Diaz was replaced for the final 15 minutes by Mo Salah, making just his second substitute appearance since New Year’s Day for Liverpool.

Salah thought he had his 20th goal of the season, only to be denied by a VAR offside. It certainly didn’t look off.

Another player returning from injury, Dominik Szoboszlai added the fifth in stoppage time.

A comfortable night, with just Konate’s potential injury the negative – can we just go one game without a fresh injury?!

Next up it’s the biggest game of the season, Man City at Anfield on Sunday. Hold on to your hats!

TIA Man of the Match: Alexis Mac Allister


Referee: Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez (ESP)

Sparta Prague: Vindahl; Vitik, Krejci, Sorensen; Preciado, Kairinen, Solbakken, Zeleny; Birmancevic, Haraslin, Kuchta

Subs: Vorel, Surovcik, Vydra, Wiesner, Karabec, Sadilek, Mejdr, Laci, Sevcik, Rynes, Olatunji, Tuci

Liverpool: Kelleher; Gomez (Bradley 46′), Konate (Van Dijk 50′), Quansah, Robertson; Endo, Mac Allister (Clark 65′), Elliott; Gakpo, Nunez (Szoboszlai 51′), Diaz (Salah 74′)

Subs not used: Adrian, Mrozek, Tsimikas, McConnell, Gordon, Koumas, Musialowski

Next Match: Man City (home, Sunday 10 March)