Liverpool Rout Sparta Prague 5-1 in Europa League

Liverpool Rout Sparta Prague 5-1 in Europa League

Liverpool took a commanding step towards the Europa League quarterfinals with a resounding 5-1 victory over Sparta Prague on Thursday. Darwin Nunez starred for the Reds, scoring twice to help secure a comfortable first-leg advantage.

Nunez opened the scoring in the sixth minute, converting a penalty after Alexis Mac Allister was fouled in the area. The Uruguayan international doubled Liverpool’s lead in the 25th minute with a stunning right-footed shot from distance.

Sparta Prague pulled one back through an own goal by Conor Bradley, but Nunez restored Liverpool’s three-goal advantage just before halftime. Luis Díaz extended the lead further in the second half, before Dominik Szoboszlai scored a consolation goal for the hosts in stoppage time.

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp praised his team’s performance, saying, “Our goals were fantastic.” He also welcomed the return of Mohamed Salah, who came on as a substitute in the 74th minute.

In other Europa League action, Bayer Leverkusen extended their unbeaten run to 35 games across all competitions with a 2-2 draw at Qarabag. Roma continued their resurgence under coach Daniele De Rossi with a 4-0 thumping of Brighton, while Marseille beat 10-man Villarreal 4-0.

AC Milan took control of their tie against Slavia Prague with a 3-1 victory at San Siro, while Freiburg secured a 1-0 home win over West Ham. Benfica salvaged a 2-2 draw at Rangers, while Aston Villa held Ajax 0-0 in Amsterdam.

In the Europa Conference League, Lille recorded a 3-0 victory at Sturm Graz, Maccabi Tel Aviv won 4-1 at Olympiacos, and Molde beat Club Brugge 2-1. Fiorentina secured a dramatic 4-3 victory over Maccabi Haifa, while Fenerbahce won 3-0 at Union Saint-Gilloise.

Liverpool's Injury-Hit Squad Continues to Triumph with Last-Gasp Victory

Liverpool’s Injury-Hit Squad Continues to Triumph with Last-Gasp Victory

Liverpool’s relentless pursuit of victories continues despite facing a barrage of injuries and relying heavily on academy prospects. In a thrilling encounter at Nottingham Forest, Darwin Nunez emerged as the hero, scoring a dramatic header in the ninth minute of stoppage time to secure a 1-0 victory. This triumph marks Liverpool’s sixth consecutive win across all competitions and their fourth in an 11-day span, including an extra-time victory over Chelsea in the English League Cup final.

Jurgen Klopp, who will depart Liverpool at the end of the season, expressed his astonishment at the team’s recent success. “If you’d told me 12 days ago we would win all four games, I would have said no chance,” he remarked. “In the circumstances, winning the games is ridiculous.”

Manchester City, currently in second place, will aim to close the gap to Liverpool to one point when they face Manchester United in the derby on Sunday. The highly anticipated clash between Liverpool and City at Anfield on March 10 looms large on the horizon.

Despite Liverpool’s injury woes gradually easing, key players such as Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Diogo Jota, and Curtis Jones remain sidelined. Klopp opted to start 19-year-old Bobby Clark in midfield alongside Joe Gomez, who was deployed as a defender. Jayden Danns, an 18-year-old forward, made his league debut as a second-half substitute.

“What the boys have squeezed out was special,” Klopp said. “This game didn’t go easy for us. We didn’t have a great rhythm and the boys felt the intensity for the first time.”

Post-match scenes at Nottingham Forest were marred by anger among players and coaching staff, with club owner Evangelos Marinakis expressing his displeasure on the touchline. Forest’s complaints stemmed from the eight minutes of added time awarded by the referee and the fact that they were not given the ball back after Liverpool defender Ibrahima Konate sustained a head injury just before the goal.

In other Premier League action, Arsenal, who trail City by a point in third, will visit last-placed Sheffield United on Monday. Chelsea’s hopes of giving Mauricio Pochettino a victory on his 52nd birthday were dashed as they were held to a 2-2 draw at Brentford. The Blues’ away contingent expressed their dissatisfaction with Pochettino, chanting the name of former manager Jose Mourinho and calling for the Argentine’s departure.

Aston Villa maintained their grip on fourth place with an 89th-minute winner at Luton, responding to Tottenham’s come-from-behind 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace. Lucas Digne’s header sealed a 3-2 win for Villa, who remain five points ahead of Tottenham but have played one game more.

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