Liverpool have qualified for the Champions League last 16 after recording an emphatic 7-0 win against Spartak Moscow at Anfield on Wednesday night.
Philippe Coutinho was the star of the match, and he got the Reds underway converting a penalty won by Mohamed Salah in the fourth minute.
Coutinho got his second only 10 minutes later after some wonderful football from Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Roberto Firmino ensured it was a 3-0 lead before 20 minutes was up after a superb finish with the outside of his right boot.
As the second half got underway, the Reds did not take the foot of the peddle. Sadio Mane put James Milner’s cross away with a clinical finish to begin the second half assault.
Coutinho got his hat-trick a few minutes later when his shot took a deflection to leave Spartak’s goalkeeper stranded.
Mane got his second for the game in the last 15 minutes when Daniel Sturridge put the ball across the box for the Senegalese international to bury.
Salah rounded off the 7-0 win with his inevitable goal.
How much damage can the Reds do in Europe?
It is the toughest club competition to win, but Liverpool should have the belief they can have a serious impact for the remainder of the competition regardless of who they draw.
This is a serious football team, mainly in the attacking half of the pitch.
The way the ‘Fab Four’ in Mane, Salah, Coutinho and Firmino all link up would worry any defence in world football. On any given day, they can score for fun because of the quality they have in the attacking half of the pitch.
— Lachlan Ballingall (@L_Ballingall) December 6, 2017
They arguably are the best counter-attacking side in the Premier League, or perhaps even Europe. If they do happen to get one of the big boys in the round of 16, they will fancy themselves.
The teams they come up against in the round of 16 play football, which will allow Liverpool to play on the break. Even if sides decide to sit back, the Reds have improved immensely when it comes to breaking sides down that sit deep.
Providing they defend properly, which they can at times, the attacking threat the Reds offer could carry them a long way in this competition, regardless of how the opposition teams play.
Coutinho runs the show again
The Brazilian did it at Brighton on the weekend and did it again when Spartak came to town.
Given the captain’s armband before the match, there was obviously huge responsibility on his shoulders, and he lived up to it perfectly.
Scoring a hat-trick was the icing on the cake for what has been a brilliant couple of games for Coutinho.
Alberto Moreno injury the only bad news for Liverpool
The extent of Alberto Moreno’s injury is still to be revealed, but the fact he was withdrawn in the first half says it probably is enough to rule him out of the derby on the weekend against Everton.
It is a shame really. The Spaniard has been good for the Reds this season and he warrants a start in one of Liverpool’s main matches.
Only time will tell how severe his injury is, but hopefully for his sake it is not a prolonged period on the sidelines.
Spartak have plenty to do
They showed at Anfield that they are a long way off being a challenger to Europe’s elite. The minute Spartak gave the penalty away, everything fell to pieces for the Russians.
They came up against a quality opposition, but they showed very little fight and that was the alarming thing.
You cannot be that gutless in Europe’s top competition and expect to get anything from it.