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Why it was ‘almost the perfect night’ – Media react to Liverpool’s win in Prague

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Liverpool all-but booked their place in the Europa League quarter-finals, with those in the media lauding their impressive 5-1 win at Sparta Prague.

The Reds were far too strong for their opponents on Thursday night, producing attacking brilliance at will.

Alexis Mac Allister‘s penalty opener was added to by a brace from Darwin Nunez and further efforts from Luis Diaz and Dominik Szoboszlai.

Conor Bradley‘s own goal and Ibrahima Konate‘s injury were the only negatives on an otherwise very pleasing night for Jurgen Klopp.

Here’s how the media reacted to Liverpool’s win in the Czech capital.

 

This was a great night at the office for the Reds…

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - Thursday, March 7, 2024: Liverpool's Alexis Mac Allister (L) celebrates with team-mate Darwin Núñez after scoring the first 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)

The Guardian‘s Andy Hunter praised a positive evening, even though there were a few negatives on show:

“The perfect night for Liverpool in Prague. Almost. Jürgen Klopp’s quadruple chasing team effectively booked their place in the Europa League quarter-finals with an emphatic and clinical defeat of Sparta Prague.

Darwin Nunez warmed up for the top of the table clash against Manchester City with two superb goals, including the 1000th of Klopp’s Liverpool reign, and Mohamed Salah made his comeback after over a fortnight out as a late substitute.

“Only the sight of Ibrahima Konate hobbling off injured prevented Klopp basking in the ideal preparation for Sunday’s showdown at Anfield.”

BBC Sport‘s Neil Johnston echoed that sentiment:

“As far as the result is concerned, this could not have gone any better for Reds boss Klopp.

“The appearance of Salah back on the pitch was also a welcome sight. He had the ball in the net five minutes after coming on with a curling finish, but it was ruled out for a tight offside.

“However, Konate’s withdrawal so soon after going down hurt, and Gomez being replaced at the break by Bradley, will be a concern.

“It remains to be seen whether Klopp was being cautious with both players before a domestic game of huge significance at the weekend.”

This Is Anfield‘s David Lynch felt Klopp’s team selection was ultimately justified in Prague:

“It would be fair to say that a few eyebrows were raised at a starting XI that featured more big names than might have been expected here.

“Yet it could be argued that Sparta Prague showed why they deserved such respect by producing a performance that arguably merited more than the thrashing they were ultimately given.

“Despite only scoring once, the hosts managed to carve out four big chances across the 90 minutes, with the Reds only clocking up five to score on as many occasions thanks to their superior quality.

“With that fact ensuring the visitors effectively turned the second leg into a formality and banked plenty of confidence ahead of Sunday, Jurgen Klopp‘s selection was almost entirely justified.”

 

The brilliance of Nunez had to be focused on…

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - Thursday, March 7, 2024: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez celebrates 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)

The Daily Mail‘s Lewis Steele pointed out the Uruguayan’s impact in Prague:

“There have been some rasping strikes and zapping team moves in the collection of Liverpool goals for Jurgen Klopp to look back on when the curtain falls on his time on Merseyside, but few were sweeter than the 1,000th.”

The Mirror‘s Mark Jones also loved what he saw from Nunez:

“”This was a superb first half cameo from the Uruguayan forward, with his two fearsome strikes underlining the difference in quality between the two attacks, with Sparta often passing up golden opportunities and Nunez simply grasping them with both hands.

“With a dwindling number of substitution windows left Klopp withdrew him early in the second period knowing that he will be vital against City on Sunday, and you just know he’s going to have a say in proceedings.”

 

Mac Allister and Kelleher shone once again, too…

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)

Jones heaped praise on Mac Allister, who is a joy to watch on current form:

“It was another sign of the World Cup winner’s growing authority in this side and influence upon it, with that £35million signing from Brighton, which already looked a bargain, looking an even better deal game by game.

“The Argentine is already Jurgen Klopp‘s most important midfielder, and his game intelligence is a wonderful thing to behold as he bends the game to his will.

“His pressing was on show as he nicked the ball off Asger Sorensen to win the penalty, and up he stepped – again showing authority – to open the scoring from the spot, again demonstrating how quickly he has become a senior player in this side.”

Finally, goalkeeping coach David Preece took to X to show his admiration for Kelleher:

“Brilliant stop from Kelleher. It’s difficult to think of a someone who has dipped in and out of first team football as comfortably as he has and performed so well, despite the lack of consistent game time.

“Takes a special ability to do that.”