PARIS: Champions League holders Liverpool came out on top of a 4-3 thriller with Salzburg on Wednesday after throwing away a three-goal lead at Anfield before Mohamed Salah’s winner, while Luis Suarez fired Barcelona to a comeback victory over Inter Milan.
Salah won the Group E match for Liverpool with his second of the night in the 69th minute, denying Salzburg a point after teenage sensation Erling Braut Haaland had stunned the Reds when he completed an incredible fightback with his 18th goal of the season.
“When we were winning three, we needed to score a fourth, fifth and sixth. It’s a little bit bad because the human mind says ‘OK we are going to win this’,” Salah said.
The hosts looked to be cruising in the 36th minute when Egyptian Salah had added to goals by Sadio Mane and Andy Robertson, but Hee-Chan Hwang’s brilliant strike shortly before the break gave Salzburg hope.
Two goals in four second-half minutes from Takumi Minamino and 19-year-old substitute Haaland left the home crowd stunned.
However, Salah spoiled their evening with his sixth goal of the season in all competitions, putting Liverpool level with Salzburg on three points, one behind Napoli after their disappointing goalless draw at Genk. “They made it a game for us but we are happy to get the three points. That’s the most important thing,” added Salah.
Suarez saved Barcelona’s blushes at the Camp Nou after Lautaro Martinez had scored early for Inter, who then failed to capitalise on their first-half dominance in the Group F clash and lost 2-1.
Barca moved up a gear in the second half and were deservedly level when Suarez crashed home a superb shot just before the hour mark, and the Uruguayan was at his sharpest to win the match with six minutes remaining.
Lionel Messi, a surprise inclusion from the start, suddenly warmed up and skipped past two challenges before laying on Suarez, whose perfect first touch allowed him to sink Inter and draw Barca level on four points with group leaders Borussia Dortmund. “Those are a big three points,” said Suarez, who has recovered from a frustrating start to the season with three goals in his last two games. “When you’re the number nine, you always try to help the team with goals and assists. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but I always work hard. Don’t give up in difficult times.”
Dortmund came out on top at Slavia Prague thanks to a pair of counter-attacking strikes from Achraf Hakimi, whose clinical finishing led Lucien Favre’s side to a 2-0 win in the Czech Republic.
The 20 year-old — on loan from Real Madrid — burst onto Julian Brandt’s pass in the 35th minute and charged towards the goal, skipping past Petr Sevcik and goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar before rifling home the opener, and repeated the feat in the 89th minute with a neat left-foot finish that made sure of the win.
Ajax shine again
Ajax took control of Group H with a big 3-0 success at Valencia that put them top with a perfect six points and showed again that they could yet repeat last season’s heroics.
Hakim Ziyech opened the scoring for the Dutch champions with an incredible dipping strike on just eight minutes, and Quincy Promes doubled their lead 11 minutes before half-time with his second in as many Champions League games, punishing Daniel Parejo for smashing a penalty high over the bar. Donny van de Beek sealed the points for last season’s semifinalists when he finished a beautiful passing move in the 67th minute, putting Erik ten Hag’s side three points clear of Valencia and Chelsea, who won a tough encounter at Lille thanks to Willian’s 78th-minute volleyed winner.
Tammy Abraham had given Frank Lampard’s side a deserved 22nd-minute lead with his first ever Champions League goal before more slack set-piece defending allowed Victor Osimhen to level not long after, but the Ligue 1 outfit are bottom without a point after two defeats.
Zenit St Petersburg top Group G after seeing off Benfica 3-1 in Russia, level on four points with Lyon after their 2-0 win at RB Leipzig. — AFP