Liverpool dismantle Sparta Prague and set sights on Europa League quarter-finals

Jurgen Klopp’s pursuit of a fairytale ending to life as Liverpool manager continued on Thursday evening as his side cruised to a 5-1 victory over Sparta Prague in the first leg of their Europa League round of 16 tie.

Premier League and domestic cup form has been impressive ever since Klopp announced his decision to leave the club at the end of the campaign, but Liverpool added continental brilliance to that.

Alexis Mac Allister opened the scoring from the penalty spot after just six minutes of play with Asger Sorensen committing the foul.

The Argentine sent the goalkeeper the wrong way with a strike into the bottom left corner of the net.

Lukas Haraslin had the chance to equalize for the hosts just 10 minutes later, collecting a fine pass inside the Liverpool penalty area, however his powerful strike was parried clear by Caoimhin Kelleher.

Sparta Prague continued to miss chances

The first-half will be one of regret for Sparta Prague moving forward. In the 20th minute Angelo Preciado found space inside the penalty area, forcing a shot goalwards, however a Liverpool defender made a good block.

They were punished almost immediately as the Merseyside club doubled their lead. Darwin Nunez was played through inside the penalty area and the former Benfica forward took a strong touch, giving him room to shoot, and he powerfully converted the chance into the roof of the net.

It was an emphatic finish from a striker struggling for consistency, but he is showing glimpses of the ability which Liverpool saw before signing him.


Veljko Birmancevic was the next Sparta Prague player to miss a chance. His shot was misdirected wide of the goal, with Kelleher able to comfortably watch it wide.

In injury-time of the first-half Nunez was able to score his second of the night. Alexis Mac Allister played a pass in towards the Uruguayan, who scored from a tight angle to make it 3-0.

Conor Bradley’s excellent debut season with Liverpool continues, although he had a moment he would like to forget just after the break.

A probing cross across the penalty area saw Bradley turn the ball past Kelleher and into his own net.

Luis Diaz made it 4-1 after 53 minutes with the assist provided by Harvey Elliott, although the Colombian’s shot only went into the net via a deflection.

Liverpool thought they had a fifth goal when Dominik Szoboszlai laid on a pass for Mohamed Salah, who slid the ball calmly into the bottom corner. However, VAR determined that there had been an offside.

Sparta Prague, though, gave away a fifth goal in injury-time, with a defensive mistake handing possession to Szoboszlai near goal and he slid the shot into the net, securing a 5-1 victory and a commanding position in the tie.

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