Cody Gakpo and Darwin Núñez lead Liverpool to a 6-1 victory over Sparta Prague. | soccer4u
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Cody Gakpo and Darwin Núñez lead Liverpool to a 6-1 victory over Sparta Prague.

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This was Liverpool’s pure duck shoot, and it was a fitting approach to give Manchester United pause ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup quarterfinal at Old Trafford.

After a goal-fest that nearly required an abacus to keep score, Jürgen Klopp’s magnificent team advanced to Friday’s Europa League quarterfinal draw. When Cody Gakpo scored his second goal on 55 minutes, the score was 6-1 on the evening and 11-2 on aggregate.

Prior to the Cup match against United, Mohamed Salah’s triumphant return to the starting lineup for the first time since New Year’s Day made headlines.

His contributions included a goal, three assists, seeing the game through to the end, and scoring 20 goals for the seventh straight season—becoming the first player to do so for Liverpool.

Sparta Prague was broken three more times before the quarter-hour mark, and once again in seven minutes. Darwin Núñez drove home after Dominik Szoboszlai, who was fed along the right, dragged the ball bac

The next was a defensive horror show that started right at the kickoff. After Salah robbed Ladislav Krejci, the midfielder found Bobby Clark and beat Peter Vindahl to score his first goal as a senior. Eventually, 7-1 turned into 8-1 overall. This time, Jaroslav Zeleny was the culprit for the visitors as Clark took the center back’s possession and tapped the ball to Salah, who scored easily.

Already shell-shocked, Sparta quickly became more so. Salah was the supplier; the Egyptian took a while to locate Gakpo, who made no errors, for a 9-1 victory and a tie, which both United and the black team enjoyed.

It took a long twenty minutes before Vindahl’s goal was in danger once more. A mishit shot by Salah resulted in the ball bobbing to Núñez, who skied the attempt from close range, causing Klopp to laugh. Inspired, Clark made a close second move, selling a dummy in Sparta’s domain so he could unleash a piledriver that turned back Vindahl.

At the end of the half, Salah beat his hands in fury at not being able to score more. The manager of Sparta, Brian Priske, was seen applauding Veljko Birmancevic’s goal, which came after the midfielder beat Caoimhín Kelleher to the left of the goalkeeper.

In the second half, Klopp substituted Kostas Tsimikas, Harvey Elliott, and James McConnell for Joe Gomez, Núñez, and Wataru Endo. Szoboszlai’s goal quickly made the score 5-1. Following an inside-right diagonal, the No. 8 took a shot, sending the ball pinging off Krejci and beyond Vindahl to his left.

Once again, Salah had the assist, but how long could the Egyptian wizard stay on the field before Klopp took him off? Long enough for him to see Elliott drive the play that allowed Gakpo to sidestep Vindahl and set up the Dutchman for a potential hat-trick.

After Virgil van Dijk’s run-out during the hour, Klopp replaced Jarell Quansah in preparation for Sunday’s trip up the M62. However, not before the German received a yellow card for some on-field unruliness following the young defender’s booking. The manager grinned at the bench and gave an embrace to Quansah, who may have been watching the competition from a deckchair.

In the lead-up, Klopp stated that it would be absurd to believe that he would reconsider leaving his position. Sure, but considering the dynamic team his successor would inherit, he wouldn’t be human if he didn’t have some hidden doubts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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