Last night was a night of reckoning for Liverpool. Playing in front of a vociferous Anfield crowd, qualification to the next round of the Champions League was not secure when Spartak Moscow came to town, intent on spoiling the party. However, in the opening 20 minutes of the tie, the Russia side did not know what hit them.
There have been complaints over Liverpool's finishing ability this season, with their forwards missing a lot of chances. However, last night, everything went to perfection. Out of ten shots on target in the match, they scored from seven, with stand-in skipper Philippe Coutinho bagging a hat-trick. Jurgen Klopp's front three also got in the act, with Sadio Mane scoring twice and Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah scoring one apiece.
In the end, the scoreline was 7-0, with Spartak Moscow extremely pulverized by the Reds. Liverpool scored 23-times in the Champions League group stages this campaign, the most by any English team in the competition's history. Manchester City may have been receiving all the plaudits for their attacking play but on their day, Liverpool are equally good if not better.
Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah are in the form of their lives and if Philippe Coutinho stays beyond January, Liverpool can expect to be a force in the Champions League. While the Premier League requires consistency where the teams have to do well each week to stand a chance of a top four finish, the Champions League games are effectively a one-off ties where the performance on the night is what counts the most.
Despite topping their group, the Reds could potentially face defending champions Real Madrid or Bayern Munich or Juventus. In normal times, such ties would look daunting for the club's faithful but with their attack on fire, they would be confident of giving the heavyweights a fight till death.
Late response but I thought last night was the most amazing and deadly Liverpool performance I've ever seen. Spartak genuinely looked paralysed in fear at times. Incredible.— Nathan (@R0BERTSON) December 7, 2017
Liverpool's defence is a whole other question but as long as they continue to outscore their opponents, nothing else matters. It may not work in the Premier League but on Champions League nights, when the whole team are up for it, no opposition would love to take on the rampant Reds. No one, not even the mighty Real Madrid, would prefer to take on an attack that has scored 43 times in their last 11 matches.
The Reds are unlikely to go all the way and win the Champions League this season. However, the attacking impetus brought on to the squad by Klopp has ensured that they are once again a force to be reckoned with in Europe.