After a frantic but goalless first half, the Reds made the breakthrough close to the hour mark when Sadio Mané provided a delicate assist to chip the ball back to Naby Keita, the midfielder nodding home against his former club.
Mohamed Salah struck whilst the iron was hot, latching onto a through ball before rounding Salzburg keeper Cican Stanković and finishing from a near-impossible angle out right.
Salahs strike was a killer blow to a very spirited performance from the hosts. In fact, the result may have been different had Liverpool keeper Alisson not been in such inspired form during the opening stages of the game – but, it is reigning European champions Liverpool who continue the defence of their title and go marching into the last 16 as Group E winners.
Key Talking Point
Salzburgs ability to open up Liverpool will breathe confidence into the chasing pack in the Premier League.
At times Liverpool have looked impenetrable, but here they seemed vulnerable under an impressive siege from the home side.
Salzburg SO impressive going forward— Hwang, Haaland, Minamino and others. Less impressive at the back, but so rare these days to see an opponent stretching Liverpool like this. 0-0, but excellent game so far
— Oliver Kay (@OliverKay) December 10, 2019
The trio of Hwang, Erling Haaland and Takumi Minamino caused Jürgen Klopps men real problems, who on occasions had to resort to last-ditch defending to nullify the threat.
Perhaps, demonstrated by the number of saves Alisson was forced to make, Salzburg posed the reigning European champions cause for concern with their aggressive counter attack.
Premier League sides, take note.
Starting XI: Stankovic (7); Kristensen (6), Onguene (6), Wober (6), Ulmer (7); Mwepu (7), Junuzovic (6), Szoboszlai (6), Minamino (8*); Hwang (7), Haaland (6)
Subs: Ashimeru (6), Okugawa (6)
Star Man: Takumi Minamino
All the talk prior to kickoff surrounded Salzburgs 19-year-old danger man Haaland, but it was his teammate Minamino who ran the show. In a pulsating first half of football, the Japanese playmaker was instrumental in the Austrians attacking play and proved a real threat on the counter.
Haaland gets all the press but Minamino continues to be the one who terrifies me any time he gets the ball in the final third.
— Liverpool Offside (@LFCOffside) December 10, 2019
The 24-year-old, whod scored in the reverse fixture, kept Virgil van Dijk and co. on their toes all night, showing trickery and guile on the ball.
Even once his side went 2-0 down, he still worked tirelessly to try and was Salzburgs true creative spark.
Key Talking Point
Liverpool once again showed they are the real deal and are going to take some serious stopping this season.
Despite a nervy first half, they were once again ruthless as they struck twice in the space of as many minutes to kill off an enterprising Salzburg side.
Such an impressive second-half display from the European champions. Cruising into the last 16 of the CL. In complete control after a frantic opening 45mins. #LFC
— James Pearce (@JamesPearceLFC) December 10, 2019
They really are showing no signs of letting up and once Keita had put the Reds in front, Salzburg had barely regrouped before Salah squeezed the ball in from a near-impossible angle to double the lead.
From there, it was business as usual for the Reds who were professional in seeing the remainder of the game out.
Starting XI: Alisson (8*); Alexander-Arnold (7), Lovren (6), Van Dijk (8), Robertson (7); Wijnaldum (6), Henderson (7), Keita (8); Salah (6), Firmino (6), Mane (7).
Subs: Milner (6), Gomez (6), Origi (N/A)
Star Man: Alisson
Liverpools number one delivered a performance which confirmed why he is considered among the very best in the world.
In the opening half-hour, Salzburg were thwarted five times by the Brazilian as the Reds came under the cosh from the home side.
Alissons stand-out moment came when he made a double save from Hwang in the opening exchanges to stop the Austrians racing into an early lead.
Alisson and Van Dijk are the reasons we haven’t conceded here, they’ve been immense
— Josh (@KloppStyle) December 10, 2019
Liverpools attack prevailed in the end but if it hadnt been for the man between the sticks, making important saves at crucial times in the first half, then it could have been a very different story.
Leaders Salzburg take their unbeaten record to sixth-placed Hartberg looking to win a second league game on the bounce after thrashing WSG Wattens 5-1 last time out.
Liverpool continue their quest for the Premier League title when they entertain Watford at Anfield in Nigel Pearsons first game in charge of the Hornets.