Liverpool qualify for Europa League knockout stages with LASK victory

Match reportLiverpool qualify for Europa League knockout stages with LASK victory

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By Joe Urquhart

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Liverpool qualified for the Europa League Round of 16 on Thursday evening with a 4-0 victory over LASK at Anfield.

The Reds ensured passage into the knockout stages as Group E winners after claiming three points on Merseyside along with Toulouse’s home draw against Union SG.

An opening goal from Luis Diaz, double by Cody Gakpo and a Mohamed Salah penalty delivered the result versus the Austrian Bundesliga side.

Team news

Liverpool made nine changes to their starting line-up for the visit of LASK to Merseyside.

Only Salah – who was named captain on the night – and Kostas Tsimikas remained from the team deployed at Manchester City last weekend.

Liverpool: Kelleher, Gomez, Konate (Jones, 56), Quansah, Tsimikas (Chambers, 82), Endo, Gravenberch (Bradley, 81), Elliott, Diaz (Nunez, 56), Salah (Alexander-Arnold, 55), Gakpo.

Unused substitutes: Pitaluga, Van Dijk, Szoboszlai, Mac Allister, Matip, Gordon, Doak.

First half

Liverpool began the contest on the front foot at Anfield and signalled their intent from the off with Harvey Elliott and Gakpo both seeing good opportunities go to waste.

Diaz, though, was on hand to grab the opener for the Reds in the 12th minute as he spread the ball wide to Joe Gomez on the right flank.

The winger then darted into the area to head the resulting cross into the corner of the net to earn the advantage.

It took Liverpool just three minutes to add to the scoreline as Diaz was again involved, combining with Salah this time after the Egyptian sprinted into the area to cross for Gakpo, who made no mistake inside the six-yard box.

LASK responded with pressure of their own, though Liverpool’s defence managed to stifle several of the opposition breaks as the game settled.

Salah again crossed low into the area to bring more danger ahead of the interval, before Tsimikas struck the bar with a driven effort from distance.

Liverpool were unable to find the back of the net again ahead of the half-time break despite seeing Elliott, Diaz and Gomez all go close, while Salah's low shot worked visiting goalkeeper Tobias Lawal.

Second half

Six minutes into the second period, Liverpool found their third as Salah converted from the penalty spot after Gakpo was brought down by the onrushing Lawal.

Moments later and the No.18 almost added a fourth and his second of the evening with his low effort striking the outside of the post after a strong forward run through midfield.

LASK then went close themselves through Marin Ljubicic but the forward could only drill his shot over Caoimhin Kelleher’s bar from inside the box.

Ahead of the hour, Liverpool made a triple change, which saw the introduction of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Darwin Nunez and Curtis Jones from the bench.

Nunez made a near-instant impact on the game with his close-range effort kept out by Lawal following a dangerous ball in from the right.

Kelleher then produced a strong stop from Ibrahim Mustapha to keep hold of his clean sheet, with the goalkeeper rushing out to the feet of the attacker to avert the danger away.

The Republic of Ireland international was again called into action late on, first saving Moses Usor’s low shot before pushing away a low flick from a LASK set-piece.

It was Liverpool who had the final say, though, with Gakpo grabbing his second of the night in added time, rifling home a shot into the top corner of the net to put an exclamation point on the victory.

Attendance: 49,666

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