|Liverpool’s Mohammed Salah scored the fastest hat-trick ever in the Champions League. AFP/VNA Photo|
For about 45 minutes in the early hours of yesterday morning, I was sharpening my knives. From approximately 2am local time, until a little after 2.45am, my blood was boiling.
I was watching Liverpool play Rangers in the Champions League. And no disrespect to the team from Glasgow, it was a match the visitors should have won at a stroll.
But in the first half, it was the ‘same old Liverpool’. For starters, we went behind in the game, a familiar problem that’s happened in nine of 12 matches so far this season.
And the goal scored by Scott Arnfield on 17 minutes once again exposed Liverpool’s frailties. A few quick passes and Rangers cut through Liverpool’s midfield like a Kamakura katana Samurai sword through a knob of butter that’s been left out in the midday sun.
Granted, Liverpool did manage to get on level terms before the break, but still, one all against a bang-average side in Glasgow Rangers? This wasn’t good.
I’ve no idea what manager Jurgen Klopp said to his team at halftime, but after the break, a completely different Liverpool side took to the pitch.
Six second-half goals, including a hat trick in six minutes by substitute Mohammed Salah – the fastest ever in Champions League history – turned what could have been a poor night in Scotland for Liverpool into a rout.
And while there are many positives to take from the match, it must be pointed out again, this was Rangers, a side Liverpool should be blitzing with ease.
Salah has come in for some criticism of late, mainly due to not reaching his unbelievably high standards, so to score not one, but three goals in a cameo appearance will do his confidence no harm at all.
And that’s also two goals in two games for marquee signing Darwin Nunez. He’s looked short of confidence in the early games so maybe this could be a turning point.
But let’s not get carried away here. There are still big problems at Anfield, and the true test will come on Sunday when they face a rampant Manchester City.
In seasons past, I’ve never doubted Liverpool’s ability to win at home, against anyone. But this time around, especially with a certain Erling Haaland firing on all cylinders, I think many Liverpool fans would be happy with a draw.
The title is out for Liverpool. They are way too far behind to challenge City. But a top-four finish is the absolute minimum they should be aiming for, and that’s certainly doable.
The second-half performance against Rangers was excellent, and a massive step up on their dismal showing against Arsenal in the Premier League last Sunday.
And although it would be presumptuous to say Liverpool have turned a corner, I think it’s fair to say they have put on the indicator, checked the rear-view mirror, and are slowly heading in the right direction.
But that said, defeat to City on Sunday would see any momentum gained from the Champions League victory, squashed. VNS