Liverpool put their domestic woes behind them to earn a solid victory against Red Bull Leipzig in Hungary.
A frantic first half saw Roberto Firmino come closest to breaking the deadlock, but his header was ruled out as Sadio Mane hadn’t quite kept it in play before his cross.
Leipzig then almost took the lead immediately after the half-time break as Christopher Nkunku raced clear, only to be denied by Alisson’s save.
But the onus was soon with Liverpool as Mohamed Salah grabbed the opening goal, pouncing on a stray Kevin Kampl backpass before finishing his one-on-one with conviction.
Five minutes later Liverpool made it two, as Sadio Mane capitalised on another mistake – this time by Nordi Mukiele – to produce an almost carbon copy finish to Salah and double the score.
Here are the talking points from the Puskas Arena.
1. Aggressive response
After several matches of sub-par performances, Liverpool finally had their hunger back in Hungary.
From the first whistle they looked up for it, and closed Leipzig down with that extra bit of purpose they’ve been missing, almost with a point to prove.
Jordan Henderson was constantly looking to get the ball moving quickly, and Liverpool did a good job of evading Leipzig’s high press while applying their own pressure in the right areas.
While much of the play was in Liverpool’s half for the opening 45 minutes, it was they who dominated possession and looked the more dangerous, breaking in behind Leipzig on a few occasions with direct forward play.
Amid their recent struggles, it was exactly what the doctor ordered.
2. Alisson plays it safe
Plenty of focus was on Liverpool’s No.1 following his spate of recent mistakes, but he came through this test unscathed.
Few would blame the Brazilian for feeling a little nervy, and he unsurprisingly put his foot straight through the first ball back to him as Leipzig’s attack put him under pressure.
He then over hit a run of the mill pass to Andy Robertson which suggests he is feeling the heat a little bit more than usual.
But Alisson grew more composed as he got more into the game, and he was a constant out-ball for his teammates when Leipzig threatened to steal possession.
It takes a lot for a player to show the confidence to get on the ball when things aren’t quite going their way, and Alisson didn’t shy away for a second, even if the quality of his distribution was a little off.
He didn’t take any risks – probably after a warning from his manager – but it was the first step to putting his blip behind him.
3. Kabak to basics
Liverpool’s new boy had an unfortunate debut to forget at the weekend and there were plenty of eyes watching how he would get on against Leipzig.
But the youngster passed his Champions League test with flying colours.
It was a no thrills, back to basics defensive display, alongside Henderson who was simply superb.
Kabak was more than happy to build play from the back and rarely looked troubled.
Positive signs for his team.
4. Mind the gaps
One concern for Jurgen Klopp will be the sizeable pockets of space his team inadvertently left on occasion which Leipzig did their best to exploit.
Georginio Wijnaldum, Thiago and Curtis Jones got sucked into the ball a few times and lost their shape.
It made Liverpool’s midfield press easy to bypass and made them look vulnerable in those moments, particularly in front of a makeshift back four.
Leipzig’s attack is packed with pace and they’ve got the clinical prowess to make their chances count if given the room to work in.
That much was evident with Leipzig’s opportunity straight after half-time as Christopher Nkunku almost gave them the lead.
Hwang Hee-chan then breached the offside trap at the death but could only fire wide.
In the end Liverpool kept an impressive clean sheet, but something to watch out for back at Anfield.
5. Ice cold
Give Mo Salah a sniff of goal and he’ll punish you. Do the same to Sadio Mane, and you’ll get the same result.
Leipzig did just that and Liverpool’s forwards made no mistake.
Kevin Kampl was the first culprit as he played a misplaced pass into Salah’s path with a clear run ahead of the Egyptian.
The rest was a formality, as Salah took two touches to carry the ball into the box, before wrong-footing Peter Gulacsi as his left-foot shot nestled into the corner.
Just moments later Nordi Mukiele made a real mess of a ball over the top, completely failing to connect as Mane stole in and raced towards goal.
In similar fashion to Salah he sent Gulacsi the wrong way and helped Liverpool put one foot in the next round.