Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah scored as Liverpool recorded an important 2-0 win against Inter Milan in their Champions League round-of-16 first leg at San Siro on Wednesday.

Inter had the better of the first-half chances, with Hakan Calhanoglu firing against the crossbar when afforded too much time in the penalty area.

Liverpool struggled to create many opportunities, with coach Jurgen Klopp ringing the changes in the second half, and one of those substitutes came up trumps — Firmino flicking home from an Andy Robertson corner.

Salah then added a second on 83 minutes, picking up a loose ball in the penalty area and scoring after Inter failed to clear a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross. The Egypt international has now scored eight goals in seven Champions League starts this season.

Late in the game James Milner came on as a substitute to make his 800th career appearance.

Even with the away, goals rule no longer in force, the victory puts the 2019 Champions League winners in a commanding position ahead of the return leg on March 8 at Anfield.

“We expected to be under pressure because this is the Champions League,” Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk told BT Sport. “One of the messages before the game was that we needed to be ready to suffer.

“It was a very good performance and clean sheet.”

Liverpool have won all seven of their Champions League matches this season, extending what is their longest ever winning run in Europe’s elite club competition.

“It is still dangerous,” Klopp said after the match. “It is only half-time. “We don’t feel like we are halfway through and can cruise. We will have to be ready for them again.

“Inter are a good side. I don’t say ‘job done, put your feet on the table’ in the past so why should I think different about it now?

“They are a very physical team. They played real smart balls. They have this deep last line and in the beginning we did very well. I was not surprised – they are good. We know that. We have to be ready for the second half.”

Inter, back in the Champions League knockout stages for the first time in a decade, started brightly in front of a raucous crowd, unhindered by their reduced numbers as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

Argentine striker Lautaro Martinez shot wide early on from distance, before Calhanoglu went even closer, firing against the crossbar when afforded too much time in the penalty area.

Liverpool had plenty of efforts at goal in the first half but struggled to create that killer opening, with Sadio Mane’s header from a free-kick that went just over as close as they came.

There was not much improvement after the break from Liverpool, with Inter’s final pass deserting them when it mattered most.

The hosts’ wastefulness proved costly as Firmino struck to silence the frustrated San Siro, flicking home Robertson’s corner. It was his 11th goal as a substitute for Liverpool in all competitions and no player has scored more from the bench for the Reds under Klopp.

Salah, aided by a slight deflection, stroked home the second after Van Dijk had knocked down Alexander-Arnold’s long ball to seal the win.

It was not vintage Liverpool, but they got the job done. This is the sixth time they have won the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie away from home and they have progressed from each of the previous five.

“This performance should give us plenty of confidence because we played a great game,” Inter coach Simone Inzaghi said. “We did not deserve to lose but that’s football.

“I think we can be proud because we played a great game against one of the best teams in Europe.”


Courtesy: ESPN

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