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Football | Liverpool cruise into Champions League last eight

They may be struggling domestically, but Liverpool are flying in Europe.

The Reds have defeated RB Leipzig 2-0 in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 clash at the Puskas Arena to cruise into the quarter-finals.

In a repeat from the first leg, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane grabbed the goals as Jurgen Klopp's men advanced 4-0 on aggregate.

This was technically Liverpool's 'home leg', though both fixtures were played in Budapest due to COVID-19 protocols.

2018 Champions League winners Liverpool, who have lost six successive Premier League matches at Anfield, squandered a number of opportunities in an open first half.

Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak started in central defence for Klopp's men, flanked by Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson. Fabinho returned to his usual midfield position, complementing up the impressive Thiago and the tireless Gini Wijnaldum. Diogo Jota started through the middle, with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane operating on either side of the Portuguese attacker.

Thiago drove into the box early on, but under-hit his pass to Salah on the right, and the chance came to nothing. Mane then fired a volley over the crossbar, before a Jota header from a corner forced Peter Gulacsi to make an excellent save.

At the other end, Dani Olmo forced Alisson into an excellent save in a rare opening for Leipzig.

https://twitter.com/LFC/status/1369767908730142721

Thiago then released Salah with a sublime scissor-kick through ball, but the Egyptian shot straight at Gulacsi in a one-on-one situation, with the onrushing Mane heading the rebound harmlessly into the ground.

Jota then fired a loose ball into the side netting in first half stoppage time after arriving at the back post.

Julian Nagelsmann introduced Alexander Sorloth at half time, and the striker had Leipzig's best opportunity of the match. Leipzig began to look threatening with Sorloth and fellow substitute Justin Kluivert on the pitch, and Sorloth rattled the Reds' crossbar with a looping header from 10 yards.

However, Liverpool scored the game's first goal in the 70th minute.

Slick passing from Thiago, Mane and Jota released Salah on the edge of the box, and the Premier League's top scorer calmly cut inside on to his left foot before passing the ball into the bottom corner from just inside the area.

The English champions doubled their lead four minutes later.

Divock Origi, who had just replaced Jota, fired in a wicked bouncing cross from the right wing. The ball bounced once in the box, and Mane arrived at the back post to stab the pinpoint cross into an empty net.

Mane's goal, which extended Liverpool's lead to 4-0 on aggregate, visibly deflated Leipzig.

Liverpool saw out the remainder of the game to book their place in the last eight.

In Wednesday's other fixture, PSG and Barcelona drew 1-1 in Paris, with Kylian Mbappe (penalty) and Lionel Messi scoring the game's goals. PSG advance to the quarter-finals after a stunning 4-1 win in the first leg at Camp Nou.

 

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