Champions League - Group E
LiverpoolLiverpool3NK MariborNK Maribor0

Liverpool 3-0 NK Maribor

By Shamoon HafezBBC Sport
Emre Can
Can scored his third goal of the season for Liverpool

Liverpool moved closer towards the Champions League knockout stages for the first time since 2008-09 with a hard-fought victory over Maribor.

Mohamed Salah broke the deadlock in the second half with a clever, flicked finish but James Milner had a penalty brilliantly saved by 39-year-old goalkeeper Jasmin Handanovic.

Midfielder Emre Can exchanged passes with Milner to curl in the second from the edge of the box and Daniel Sturridge drilled in a third late on.

Liverpool dominated the first half, holding 83% possession, but were unable to find the breakthrough - Roberto Firmino coming close with a stooping header which was tipped onto the crossbar by Handanovic.

Maribor's best chance fell to Martin Milec, but his low drive was collected by Loris Karius, the only save he made in the match.

Jurgen Klopp's side remain top and unbeaten in Group E with eight points from four games. They face Sevilla away and Spartak Moscow at home in their remaining games.

In the group's other game, Sevilla moved up to second by beating Spartak 2-1.

Patience pays off again

In their previous game against Huddersfield, Liverpool were goalless at half-time but went on to put three second-half goals past the Terriers. They did the same on this occasion.

The Anfield side had thrashed Maribor 7-0 last time out in Europe but failed to find the back of the net from 13 first-half shots.

Although Salah netted his 10th goal for Liverpool since signing from Roma in the summer, the Egyptian was wasteful in front of goal, slicing over the bar from a promising position and heading off target from just four yards out.

Liverpool also missed a penalty for the second consecutive game as Milner's effort was tipped onto the post by a full-stretch Handanovic. The Premier League side have now failed to convert their past four spot-kicks at home.

But their persistence paid off when German international Can gave his side breathing space with a well-taken finish, before England striker Sturridge came off the bench to net in back-to-back games for the first time since the start of this year.

Can said: "It was difficult in the first half because they were deep but we got more space in the second half and it was a game where we had to be patient.

"We could do better this season but it is still early. Now we are in a good position in the Champions League and hopefully we will be in the next round."

Liverpool have now lost just once in their past eight games in all competitions and a much-criticised defence has kept four clean sheets in their past five games.

Wijnaldum woe

Georginio Wijnaldum
Wijnaldum looks like he will be joining a growing Liverpool injury list

Klopp will be concerned by a first-half injury to Dutchman Georginio Wijnaldum, who needs a scan on a swollen ankle sustained in an innocuous collision with a visiting player.

The midfielder often provides the shield to allow the more adventurous players to foray forward and Liverpool shipped four goals against Tottenham without him last month.

They were also held to a 1-1 draw at home to Burnley in the only other match he has missed this campaign.

This game, though, was not one where the Liverpool backline was tested by a team who have failed to win in their past 15 Champions League group games.

Joel Matip
Central defender Joel Matip made 128 touches on the ball but only one of those came inside his own box

Such was the home side's control, centre-back Joel Matip attempted the most passes of any player on the pitch (120), closely followed by defensive partner Ragnar Klavan with 118.

Should Wijnaldum be ruled out for any length of time, he will join a growing Liverpool injury list.

Long-term absentees Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne are yet to feature this season, while creative midfielder Philippe Coutinho has missed the past two games with an adductor problem.

Forward Sadio Mane is not expected to return until mid-November and defenders Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez were not fit to face the Slovenians.

Man of the match - Emre Can (Liverpool)

Emre Can
Four tackles, one goal and 87 passes, an all-action performance from Emre Can

Yes he Can - the stats

  • Liverpool have kept four clean sheets in their past five games in all competitions, after managing none in the seven games before that.
  • Mohamed Salah has registered 13 goal involvements in all competitions for Liverpool this season (10 goals, three assists) - more than any other Reds player.
  • The Reds have failed to score with five of their past seven penalties in all competitions, including all of their past three.
  • Emre Can netted his first Champions League goal in his 13th appearance in the competition.
  • Daniel Sturridge bagged his first Champions League goal in almost seven years, since scoring for Chelsea against Zilina in November 2010.

What's next?

Liverpool travel to face West Ham in the Premier League on Saturday (kick-off 17:30 GMT) and are next in action in the Champions League at Sevilla on 21 November.



Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Karius
  • 66Alexander-Arnold
  • 32Matip
  • 17Klavan
  • 18Moreno
  • 7Milner
  • 23Can
  • 5WijnaldumSubstituted forHendersonat 17'minutes
  • 11SalahSubstituted forSturridgeat 74'minutes
  • 9FirminoSubstituted forGrujicat 85'minutes
  • 21Oxlade-Chamberlain


  • 12Gomez
  • 14Henderson
  • 15Sturridge
  • 16Grujic
  • 22Mignolet
  • 26Robertson
  • 29Solanke

NK Maribor

Formation 5-4-1

  • 33Handanovic
  • 22Milec
  • 3Billong
  • 26RajcevicBooked at 52mins
  • 4Suler
  • 28Viler
  • 10HoticSubstituted forAhmediat 81'minutes
  • 8Kabha
  • 6Pihler
  • 39BoharBooked at 22minsSubstituted forBajdeat 69'minutes
  • 27MesanovicSubstituted forMorales Tavaresat 59'minutes


  • 5Vrhovec
  • 7Ahmedi
  • 9Morales Tavares
  • 12Vrsic
  • 20Bajde
  • 29Palcic
  • 69Obradovic
Ivan Kruzliak

Match Stats

Home TeamLiverpoolAway TeamNK Maribor
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Liverpool 3, Maribor 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Liverpool 3, Maribor 0.

  3. Post update

    Alberto Moreno (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Valon Ahmedi (Maribor).

  5. Goal!

    Goal! Liverpool 3, Maribor 0. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Alberto Moreno with a cross following a corner.

  6. Post update

    Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Gregor Bajde.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Jordan Henderson (Liverpool).

  8. Post update

    Marwan Kabha (Maribor) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  9. Post update

    Foul by James Milner (Liverpool).

  10. Post update

    Jean-Claude Billong (Maribor) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  11. Substitution

    Substitution, Liverpool. Marko Grujic replaces Roberto Firmino.

  12. Post update

    Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Jasmin Handanovic.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool).

  14. Post update

    Marko Suler (Maribor) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  15. Substitution

    Substitution, Maribor. Valon Ahmedi replaces Dino Hotic.

  16. Post update

    Foul by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool).

  17. Post update

    Mitja Viler (Maribor) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  18. Post update

    Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Marwan Kabha.

  19. Post update

    Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Marko Suler.

  20. Post update

    Emre Can (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.


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