Salah, Origi fire Liverpool to CL history

Liverpool became the first English club in Champions League history to win all six group-stage matches as Mohamed Salah and Divock Origi secured a 2-1 victory at the San Siro which eliminated AC Milan from Europe.

In a repeat of the 2005 and 2007 finals, former Chelsea defender Fikayo Tomori’s opener (29) got seven-time winners Milan off to the perfect start in what was a must-win game if their hopes of progressing through to the knockout phase were to be realised.

With Liverpool already assured of passage as Group B winners after winning their first five games, Jurgen Klopp made eight changes ahead of the trip to Milan but they proved immaterial as his side cruised to a historic triumph.

Salah drew Liverpool (36) with a stunning 20th goal of an already stellar campaign, before Divock Origi, fresh from his late winner at Wolves, sealed the win (55) with his first Champions League goal since the 2019 final.

Alisson Becker produced a brilliant sprawling save to prevent Franck Kessie from snatching a late point for the hosts but not even that could salvage Milan’s European season, which is now at an end after Atletico Madrid finished as runners-up behind Liverpool after winning 3-1 in Porto, who finished third and drop into the Europa League.

Player ratings

AC Milan: Maignan (5), Kalulu (4), Romagnoli (5), Tomori (6), Hernandez (5), Tonali (4), Kessie (5), Messias (5), Diaz (4), Krunic (4), Ibrahimovic (4).

Subs: Bennacer (5), Florenzi (5), Saelemaekers (5), Bakayoko (n/a).

Liverpool: Alisson (7), N. Williams (6), Konate (6), Phillips (7), Tsimikas (6), Morton (7), Oxlade-Chamberlain (7), Minamino (6), Salah (8), Origi (7), Mane (6).

Subs: Keita (5), Gomez (5), Fabinho (n/a), Woltman (n/a), Bradley (n/a).

Man of the Match: Mohamed Salah

Liverpool make Champions League history in Milan

Zlatan Ibrahimovic shields the ball from Ibrahima Konate
Zlatan Ibrahimovic shields the ball from Ibrahima Konate

Milan started the night knowing only a victory would give them a chance of joining Liverpool in the knockout phase but, far from flying out the traps, the Serie A club were overly cautious in the opening quarter and were indebted to a defensive mistake as they took the lead against the run of play.

From Milan’s first corner, Takumi Minamino’s fluffed near-post clearance forced a panicked save from Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson, who could only palm the ball down at the feet of Tomori, who simply couldn’t miss from close range.

Fikayo Tomori celebrates after giving AC Milan the lead against Liverpool at the San Siro
Fikayo Tomori celebrates after giving AC Milan the lead against Liverpool at the San Siro

Instead of galvanising Milan, the opener forced them further and further back, as Origi draw Mike Maignan into save before a drive from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain proved too hot for the goalkeeper, who spilled the ball to Salah, who dispatched a difficult rebound in effortless fashion.

Team news

  • Zlatan Ibrahmovic, Pierre Kalulu, Sandro Tonali, Junior Messias, and Rade Krunic returned as AC Milan made five changes from Saturday’s 2-0 win over Salernitana in Serie A.
  • Alisson Becker, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were the only players to retain their places as Liverpool made eight changes to the side which won late at Wolves.

Again, there was no reaction before the break or after the interval from Milan, whose performance belied their position as Serie A leaders, as Liverpool assumed a lead they would not surrender when Origi rekindled his Champions League scoring touch with a bullet header after Sadio Mane’s drive was parried into his path by Maignan.

With the lead secure, and with an eye on Saturday’s visit of Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa, Klopp withdrew Salah and Mane with 26 minutes remaining, before late European debuts were handed to academy products Conor Bradley and Max Woltman.

Divock Origi celebrates with team-mates after putting Liverpool 2-1 up in Milan
Divock Origi celebrates with team-mates after putting Liverpool 2-1 up in Milan

Milan left it late to throw caution to the wind but when they did they found Alisson in impenetrable mood, as his late smothering save prevented Kessie from snatching an undeserved late and ensured Liverpool’s place in the history books.

Perfect six for Liverpool – Match stats

  • Liverpool are the first English club ever to win all six of their games in a single UEFA Champions League group stage.
  • Divock Origi has scored his first goal in 15 Champions League appearances since scoring in the 2019 final against Spurs, while he has scored in back-to-back appearances in a single season in all competitions for the first time since May 2019.
  • Milan have earned four points in this Champions League season: among Italian teams only Roma in 2004/05 (one) have gained so few points in a group stage of the competition.
  • Fikayo Tomori is only the third English player to score a UEFA Champions League goal against an English opponent while playing for a non-English side, after Patrick Roberts for Celtic v Man City in 2016 and Jude Bellingham for Borussia Dortmund v Man City in 2021.

What the manager said…

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp told BT Sport: “Very proud, especially because of the sixth game to be honest. We needed fresh legs, we needed desire to play this game, which was really difficult in a hectic schedule we have. What the boys did tonight I couldn’t be prouder. It was an incredible game.

“The performance was absolutely outstanding, playing this game having 21 shots, so many situations where we played outstandingly well and defended with passion and good organisation. So many good things I saw tonight and I’m happy.”

Man of the Match – Mohamed Salah

Salah has been involved in 29 goals in all competitions this season (20 goals, 9 assists), more than twice as many as any other Premier League player.

What’s next?

Liverpool host Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday at 3pm, before Milan travel to Udinese in Serie A on Saturday at 7.45pm.

Read more here SkySports | News

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