Liverpool put their domestic struggles to one side as they gained the upper hand in their Champions League last-16 tie against RB Leipzig with a 2-0 victory in the first leg in Budapest.
Three successive Premier League defeats led to Reds manager Jurgen Klopp conceding their title defence is over, but they have taken a giant stride towards the quarter-finals of Europe’s premier club competition.
Both Liverpool goals came via Leipzig errors, with Mohamed Salah latching on to a woeful back pass by Marcel Sabitzer to slot home in the 53rd minute, and Sadio Mane doing likewise five minutes later after Nordi Mukiele’s slip-up.
The nominal visitors – this game had to take place in the Hungarian capital because of restrictions on travel into Germany due to coronavirus – were given a let-off early on when Dani Olmo headed against a post.
Substitute Hwang Hee-chan put wide late on but a makeshift Liverpool defence low on confidence kept only the team’s second clean sheet in their last 11 matches against a side that reached the Champions League semi-finals last term.
Leipzig had reached this stage by eliminating Manchester United, but a side that has the best home record in this season’s Bundesliga looked uncomfortable away from their Red Bull Arena fortress.