Lead squandered – LASK loses at home to Liverpool
The LASK challenged Liverpool FC in the “Game of the Year”, but did not reward themselves for a courageous performance. Linz lost 19-1 to the 0-time English champions at the start of the Europa League on Thursday after taking a 1-3 lead at half-time. Núñez from the penalty spot (56th), Díaz (63rd) and Salah (88th) turned the game around after Flecker had given the underdogs the lead in front of over 17,000 spectators in the packed stadium on the Gugl (14th).
Liverpool’s star coach Jürgen Klopp completely changed his team compared to Saturday’s championship win against Wolverhampton and brought in eleven new players. Brazil’s team goalkeeper Alisson, Argentina’s World Cup winner Mac Allister, Salah, Szoboszlai and Robertson were initially only on the substitutes’ bench.
“We want fresh legs. We don’t have a first eleven,” Klopp said, explaining his line-up, which still included top players such as star defender Van Dijk, Dutch team player Gravenberch, who was signed for around 40 million euros, France defender Konate and Uruguay striker Núñez. The 17-year-old Scottish striker Doak made his starting eleven debut.
The Linz team had set themselves the goal of going into the game of the year with courage and put this into practice with energetic duels. And even took the lead. Van Dijk was able to deflect a shot from Zulj, and Horvath brought the resulting corner ideally to Flecker, who pulled off from outside the penalty area and hit perfectly into the far corner.
Liverpool turn up the heat after the break
Liverpool, dressed in unfamiliar purple, dominated the game, but LASK knew how to keep the ball-safe English away from the danger zone. Only once in the first half was it really dangerous, but goalkeeper Lawal reacted brilliantly to a header from Núñez from very close range (36th). Shortly before that, Ljubicic even had the chance to make it 2-0 on a counterattack, but hesitated too long (29th).
Klopp did not react at the break in terms of personnel, but Liverpool also increased the pressure with the “B-Eleven” and constricted the home team in the penalty area at times. With a tough penalty, the equalizer also succeeded. Endo missed a shot clearly, but Ziereis then hit the Japanese on the leg. After a VAR check, Italian referee Marco di Bello awarded a penalty, which Núñez converted.
Thomas Sageder’s team then took the initiative again and had a good chance through Ljubicic, who had been offside. However, with a quick counter-attack, the visitors made the preliminary decision through Díaz after Gravenberch had been brought in. At this point, Mac Allister and Szoboszlai were already on the pitch. Salah was also substituted in the final quarter of an hour and fixed the final score in the finish.
Liverpool deservedly picked up three points thanks to a clear improvement in the second half, but LASK could be satisfied with their performance against the English top club. After the duel with the big favourites in Group E, the Linz team will continue on 5 October at FC Toulouse.