Liverpool took a huge step towards the Champions League quarter-finals after scoring two late goals against Inter Milan in the San Siro. Elsewhere, six-time winners Bayern Munich needed a late Kingsley Coman equaliser to avoid a shock last-16 first-leg defeat at an impressive Red Bull Salzburg.
At the San Siro, Liverpool looked set for a goalless draw in the first leg in Italy until Roberto Firmino got on the end of Andrew Robertson’s corner in the 75th minute to head his side into the lead.
Mohamed Salah added a second with a deflected effort from inside the box which means Jurgen Klopp’s side take a sizeable advantage into the second leg at Anfield on 8 March.
Italian champions Inter hit the bar through Hakan Calhanoglu and were on top for long periods of the second half, but where unable to convert their possession into goals.
That always left Inter vulnerable to a Liverpool counter-attack and that is what happened as Liverpool scored from their only two attempts on target.
Although away goals no longer count double, losing 2-0 at home is still a devastating blow for Inter after that performance.
“We hope not to face Liverpool every game!” smiled Inter boss Simone Inzaghion Amazon Prime Italia.
“I am happy and proud of the team, unfortunately during our best period of the game we were not rewarded with the goal we deserved, then Liverpool scored at the first half-distraction we had.
“We certainly deserved more, but this performance has to augur well for what is to come in the future. Liverpool are one of the two best teams in Europe in my view, Inter held out well and deserved more.
“It’s difficult to comment after a result like this, but it has to be a starting point for Inter at this level. I think this is the strongest opponent we’ve faced this season.”
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was happy that his team was able to ride out the pressure from Inter and come away with the won saying:
“We started really well, caused Inter problems, but didn’t finish our situations. We didn’t defend particularly well on the switches to the wing-backs, especially Ivan Perisic, it was really tricky,” Klopp told Amazon Prime Italia.
“They had chances, but couldn’t finish them off. Dzeko scored, it looked like a chance, but he was offside, so it wasn’t.
“We weren’t great, but we stayed in the game.”
In the other game last night, it tool a 90th minute equalizer from Coman to rescue a draw for Bayern.
Chukwubuike Adamu had put Salzburg ahead with a delightful curling finish into the corner and they should have added to their lead but Karim Adeyemi’s shot was saved and Adamu’s follow-up was blocked.
The vibrant home side were appearing in the knockout stage of the Champions League for the first time, but did not look out of place against an often flat Bayern side.
Julian Nagelsmann’s side cruised through the group stage by winning all six games, but found it difficult to deal with the youthfulness and pace of their opponents.
Salzburg, fielding the youngest average starting side in the Champions League since Ajax in 2003, took the lead on 21 minutes through Adamu’s lovely effort.
Brenden Aaronson cut onto his left and forced a smart save from Sven Ulreich, while Germany international Adeyemi’s effort was straight at the Bayern understudy keeper.