Philippe Coutinho got his fist-ever Liverpool hat-trick as the Reds smashed Spartak Moscow 7-0 in an incredibly one-sided UEFA Champions League fixture with Jurgen Klopp’s side sealing top spot in Group E with an imperious performance in front of their own fans.
Going into Wednesday’s tie at Anfield, the Reds were virtually assured of progression, but needed to avoid a loss to secure top spot.
Any hopes of an upset were quelled with barely when Coutinho converted a spot-kick in the 4th minute itself.
And the Brazilian would double the hosts’ lead 11 minutes later when compatriot Roberto Firmino cut back a cross for him to pass into the goal.
Firmino then got on the scoresheet in the 18th minute to give the Reds a three-nil lead with a close-range finish and at that moment it looked like Jurgen Klopp’s side would score a handful more before the break.
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Liverpool’s profligacy, however, prevented them from extending their advantage and the Reds suffered an blow minutes before the interval when fullback Alberto Moreno went down with an ankle injury and had to be replaced by James Milner.
The second-half began as the first had started, with Sadio Mane scoring an emphatic volley in the 47th minute after Milner had sent in an inviting cross into the Spartak box.
Coutinho would complete his hat-trick three minutes later with a deflected effort as the hosts continued to penetrate their Russian opponents with ease.
Klopp brought on Daniel Sturridge with an eye on Sunday’s Premier League clash with Merseyside rivals Everton and the Englishman unselfishly set up Mane for Liverpool’s sixth in the 76th minute.
Spartak continued to take pot-shots but Reds custodian Loris Karius dealt with whatever the visitors sent his way with ease and Mohamed Salah would put the icing on the cake with a deft finish to register Liverpool’s seventh.
Remarkably, Wednesday was the second time in the season the free-scoring Reds have scored seven and with their third win, the English outfit topped Group E with a tally of 12 points.
La Liga outfit Sevilla could only draw 1-1 with NK Maribor in the other Group E game on the night and come in second place, three points behind the Reds while Spartak qualify for the UEFA Europa League after their third-place finish.
Wednesday’s result only reinforces Liverpool’s tag as favourites for Sunday’s Merseyside Derby for despite facing a rejuvenated Everton side, Jurgen Klopp’ men are in sensational form going forward and will be backing themselves to beat their city rivals at Anfield.