Player ratings as Liverpool cruise into Europa League quarter-finals with dominant 6-1 win over Sparta Prague

15 March 2024 2115
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Liverpool progressed to the Europa League quarter-finals after crushing Sparta Prague by a scoreline of 6-1, clinching an 11-2 on aggregate win in the round of 16 encounter.

The Reds dominated the match with goals coming from Darwin Nunez, Bobby Clark, Mohamed Salah, Dominik Szoboszlai, and Cody Gakpo, who scored twice. Their opponent for the quarter-finals will be determined by a UEFA draw set to be held on Friday.

Despite having a significant 5-1 lead from the first leg, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp stressed the need to maintain their winning momentum. Reflecting his words, Klopp fielded a strong team featuring not just Salah, who scored for his first start since New year's day, but also players like Nunez, Szoboszlai, and Andy Robertson.

The Liverpool starting XI was quick to establish their dominance, taking a 4-0 lead within the first 15 minutes of the match. Nunez initiated the goal spree with Clark soon adding to it thanks to a well-timed press from Salah. The goal favor was returned when Clark set up Salah to score. The early goal glut was completed when Gakpo scored after receiving a cutback from Salah.

Veljko Birmancevic gave Sparta a brief moment of joy by reducing the deficit prior to halftime, but Liverpool was back to scoring immediately after the break with Szoboszlai hammering a shot into the near post. Gakpo increased Sparta's woes by scoring a goal from a low drive by Harvey Elliott, wrapping up the scoring with just 55 minutes on the clock.

Goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher will be disappointed to not have maintained a clean sheet. Conor Bradley was reliable defensively. Centre-backs Joe Gomez and Jarell Quansah didn't have much to handle, and Andy Robertson's passing was excellent throughout the match.

Midfielders Szoboszlai, Wataru Endo, and Clark all had good performances. Salah reaffirmed his importance to the team with a goal and three assists. Nunez opened scoring and Gakpo enhanced his confidence scoring twice.

In the second half, Endo, Nunez, and Gomez were replaced by James McConnell, Harvey Elliott, and Kostas Tsimikas respectively. At the 66-minute mark, Quansah was substituted for Virgil van Dijk, while Clark was eventually replaced by Mateusz Musialowski after 73 minutes.

The unused substitutes were Adrian, Fabian Mrozek, Luis Diaz, Alexis Mac Allister, Kaide Gordon, Lewis Koumas, and Jayden Danns.

Jurgen Klopp will be satisfied with his team selection, which resulted in a strong performance from Liverpool without any further injuries.