Inter Milan 0-2 Liverpool. Liverpool seized control of their Champions League last-16 battle with Inter Milan thanks to late goals from Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.
For much of the intriguing first leg in Italy, the Reds were second best, but they survived a rush of Inter raids in the second half before scoring with 15 minutes remaining.
Firmino, who was brought by Jurgen Klopp at halftime in place of Diogo Jota, flicked Andy Robertson’s corner past Samir Handandovic.
Mohamed Salah pounced on a loose ball in the Inter area eight minutes later, and his low shot was deflected beyond the hapless Nerazzurri goalie.
As a result of the victory, Liverpool will have a significant lead heading into the second leg on March 8 at Anfield.
Here are five topics to consider from San Siro.
1. Harvey Elliott’s European debut
After almost five months out with a serious ankle injury, Harvey Elliott made a “fairytale” comeback to activity at the start of February.
The 18-year-old scored his first senior goal against Cardiff in the FA Cup, reminding supporters of his immense potential, and Jurgen Klopp chose to give him his Champions League debut against Inter Milan
2. Van Dijk is impenetrable.
Van Dijk was outstanding against Inter Milan’s striking duo of Lautaro Martinez and Edin Dzeko, placing himself to suffocate the threat and utilizing his incredible recovery speed to do so.
As a result of Jurgen Klopp’s decision, Van Dijk was paired with Ibrahima Konate rather than Joel Matip at center-back, and the Frenchman made a number of crucial interventions, including a stunning stop to reject Ivan Perisic’s shot just before the hour mark.
3. Klopp’s changes do the damage
Jurgen Klopp seldom makes half-time substitutions, but he did so midway through the game, replacing Diogo Jota with Roberto Firmino.
It’s unclear if Jota needed to be substituted after his weekend fitness setback, but the offensive move was key in Liverpool’s victory.
With the game’s first shot on goal in 20 attempts, Firmino leaped at the near post to flick Andy Robertson’s corner into the far post.
The Reds finally broke through following a spell of Inter Milan dominance in which the hosts created many chances, one of which saw Lautaro Martinez almost miss Ivan Perisic’s cross.
On the hour mark, Edin Dzeko had the ball in the back of the net, but the flag was raised, with replays establishing he was offside after Denzel Dumfries sent him in over the top.
Just seconds before, Klopp made three additional changes, bringing in Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson, and Luis Diaz in place of Harvey Elliott, Fabinho, and Sadio Mane.
After combining with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Diaz, a £50 million January addition, was one of the livelier players in the second half, forcing a block from Milan Skriniar.
But, not for the first time, Firmino was the difference in the Champions League for Liverpool.
4. Sadio Mane’s glaring miss
Despite not being at their best in the first half, Liverpool posed a danger anytime they broke on their hosts and piled up a slew of attempts, none of which challenged Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.
Liverpool’s creativity was centered on Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold, while a progressive midfield including Harvey Elliott and Thiago complimented Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota, and Sadio Mane in the attack.
Mane had the best opportunity of the bunch when he met a superb Andy Robertson delivery but could only head over the bar.
5. They’ve been given a dose of their own medicine.
After years of refining the art of the high press under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool is used to setting the pace in games.
During the first half at San Siro, though, they made uncommon blunders as their hosts hounded them mercilessly.
In the face of the Inter press, the Reds failed to play out from the back with their usual ease, which was the result of Simone Inzaghi’s refusal to change his usual method.
Klopp raced into his technical area at one point to scream at Andy Robertson after the left-back gave the ball away twice in a row.
The Nerazzurri, on the other hand, came closest in the first half, with Hakan Calhanoglu hitting the crossbar from the left flank, Lautaro Martinez shooting wide from beyond the box, and Milan Skriniar nodding a corner past the post.