Liverpool survived a stirring Red Bull Salzburg comeback which erased a three-goal lead to emerge victorious from their second group match of this season's Champions League campaign, courtesy of two Mohamed Salah goals.
Sadio Mane put the hosts in front after nine minutes with swift team goal, playing a neat one-two with Roberto Firmino before slotting into the far corner against his former side.
If the first was good, the second was excellent. Andy Robertson started and finished a flowing move in the attacking third, ending with the Scotsman bursting into the box and getting on the end of Trent Alexander-Arnold's low cross.
At his deadly best, Salah joined in on the act, finishing low after Cican Stankovic could only parry Firmino's effort into his path. There was moment to savour for Salzburg though, Hwang Hee-chan putting Virgil van Dijk on the floor with a drop of the shoulder in the box and rifling into the back of the net.
Such was the openness of the match that is hardly surprising another goal followed in the second half, but it wasn't supposed to be scored by the away side. This time, Hwang turned provider, crossing for Takumi Minamino who fired a fine effort into to corner beyond Adrian from outside the box. There weren't done there, however, completing their stunning comeback as substitute Erling Braut Håland tapped in from close range to score his side's third of the night.
With the nerves increasing throughout the terraces and in the dugout, Salah poked home to ease the anxiety after connecting from Firmino's flicked header. That proved to be the game's final goal, with Liverpool almost paying the ultimate price for underestimating their plucky Austrian opponents.
Key Talking Point
Yes, you weren't in cuckoo land. No, this wasn't some unimaginable fantasy only possible in FIFA. Virgil van Dijk was sat down by some fine skill from Hwang in the box for a moment he, and the rest of the world, will not forget anytime soon.
Back to the actual game, though. Going three goals up in the first half more often than not means Liverpool will win a match. Oh how wrong they were. Well, sort of, anyway.
What occurred from the first moment the Reds netted their third was unprecedented levels of complacency. Seemingly unaware that their opponents are actually (more) than a half-decent attacking side, the game began to open up and the superb Minamoto was finding space in all the right areas for Salzburg.
Surely tightening things up in the second half would have been wise, but Liverpool just provided more of the same, and as much as the visitors deserved their comeback, the Reds equally deserved punishing for their sloppiness.
But, y'know, they won. That is all that matters, one supposes. However, underestimating your opponents is one of football's cardinal sins, and one that Jurgen Klopp will most likely punish heavily if they are to go all the way once again this year.
Starting XI: Adrian (7); Alexander-Arnold (7), Gomez (6), Van Dijk (7), Robertson (8); Henderson (7), Fabinho (7), Wijnaldum (7); Salah (8), Firmino (8*), Mane (8)
Substitutes: Milner (7), Origi (7), Keita (N/A)
Tonight we saw the very good of Liverpool, and the surprisingly bad that not many were sure actually still existed. Salzburg deserve immense praise for their efforts in the match, harrying the home side without fear, but one player who did stand tall for Liverpool throughout the 90 minutes was Roberto Firmino.
Classy on the ball and intelligent without it, the debate over who is most important in the Reds' forward triumvirate keep raging on. You cannot, however, brush aside Firmino from that conversation. He's immense, and invaluable to this side. Under the Anfield floodlights he once again showed everyone that he's among the best in Europe, never mind England.
Firmino, Liverpool's best player.— M Bagus Prayogo (@gerrald08) October 2, 2019
Las las Firmino is Liverpool's best player! People are just blind to see— SOSA (@Owor_Etta) October 2, 2019
RED BULL SALZBURG
Starting XI: Stankovic (6); Ulmer (7), Wober (7), Onguene (7), Nissen (7); Szoboszlai (8), Junuzovic (7), Mwepu (7), Takumi (9); Hwang (8), Daka (6)
Substitutes: Håland (8), Ashimeru (6), Okugawa (7)
Its home comforts once again for the Reds this weekend, as they play host to high-flying Leicester in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.
For the visitors, they too are back in domestic action as they take on Altach in the Austrian Bundesliga.