Liverpool overpowered Hoffenheim 4-2 at Anfield to ease into the Champions League group stages with a 6-3 aggregate play-off victory.
Most of the damage was done in a sensational 11-minute spell early in the first half when Germany’s Emre Can struck twice against the Bundesliga side and Mohamed Salah also got on the scoresheet.
Mark Uth, who scored and missed a penalty in the first leg, pulled one back for the visitors but the outstanding Roberto Firmino settled the tie before a Sandro Wagner consolation.
What they said
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: “Yippee! Everything. For the club, for the team, (it is) everything we have worked for in the last 14 months.
“You will always get some people who say, ‘It is only Champions League’, but we feel we wanted to be part of it with all we have.”
Tweet of the Match
– Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson.
The Senegal forward did not get on the scoresheet but he deserved to for an outstanding attacking display. Hoffenheim could not live with his pace. Even when their defenders had a sizeable head start on him they struggled to beat him to the ball. His trickery added to their confusion while his awareness of and understanding with team-mates, particularly Firmino, was impressive.
Moment of the match
Liverpool’s third goal of the night – and their third in the space of just 11 minutes – came from an exhilarating break. The opening was made by the pace of Mane and his trickery then gave Firmino the space to pick out Can with an excellent cross. It was brilliant, slick play. The Reds seemed rampant and the crowd delighted in it. Jurgen Klopp roared his approval on the sidelines and with good reason.
Speculation continues over Philippe Coutinho’s future but, while the opposition was not the highest class, there is clearly a way forward for Liverpool without him should he depart.
The club remain adamant that will not happen, even if Barcelona come in with another bid to top their most recent reported £114million offer, but he would not leave the gaping hole some might think for a player attracting that sort of fee. For now Coutinho is watching on only, having been injured and ill so far this season.
Liverpool: Simon Mignolet: 6 (Out of 10), Trent Alexander-Arnold: 7, Joel Matip: 6, Dejan Lovren: 6, Alberto Moreno: 7, Emre Can: 8, Jordan Henderson: 8, Georginio Wijnaldum: 7, Mohamed Saleh: 8, Roberto Firmino: 8, Sadio Mane: 8. Substitutes: Joe Gomez (for Alexander-Arnold, 65): 6, James Milner (for Can, 70): 6, Ragnar Klavan (for Mane, 88): 5,
Hoffenheim: Oliver Baumann: 5, Pavel Kaderabek: 5, Havard Nordveit: 5, Kevin Vogt: 5, Benjamin Hubner: 5, Steven Zuber: 5, Dennis Geiger: 5, Kerem Demirbay: 5, Andrej Kramaric: 5, Sandro Wagner: 5, Serge Gnabry: 6. Substitutes: Mark Uth (for Nordveit, 24): 6, Adam Szalai (for Gnabry, 56): 5, Jeremy Toljan (for Kaderabek, 64): 5.
Who’s up next?
Liverpool v Arsenal (Premier League, August 27)
Bayer Leverkusen v Hoffenheim (Bundesliga, August 26)