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Mo Salah sets Liverpool goalscoring record in team’s stunning 11-2 aggregate victory over Sparta Prague

As bad days at the office go, it’s unlikely Sparta Prague will have endured many worse than on Thursday.

Already trailing 5-1 after last week’s Europa League round-of-16 first leg, Sparta found itself 9-1 down on aggregate after only 15 minutes at Anfield as Liverpool went on an early rampage with goals from Darwin Nuñez, Bobby Clark, Mo Salah and Cody Gakpo.

Things did get slightly better for Sparta – albeit very briefly – as Veljko Birmančević reduced the aggregate deficit to seven goals when he scored just before half-time to make it 4-1 on the night.

However, a rampant Liverpool wasn’t done yet, as goals from Gakpo and Dominik Szoboszlai rounded out a 6-1 win on the night and an 11-2 drubbing on aggregate in one of the most one-sided ties you are ever likely to see in a European competition.

“The boys started the game incredibly well,” Klopp told reporters after the game. “We were really, really after them, at them – however you want to call it – and scored wonderful goals.

“Four-nil after 14 minutes is really strange, and from that moment on, it became a strange game because how can you now stay greedy and these kinds of things. In that moment, probably everybody thought: ‘OK, we have other games to come,’ stuff like this.”

Salah’s goal was his 20th in all competitions this season, marking the first time in Liverpool’s history that a player has reached that landmark for seven consecutive seasons.

Klopp said that statistic is “not really surprising” because Salah, who was making his first start since January 1 due to injury, is “an outstanding player.”

“I’ve worked seven years together with him, so one problem we never had was consistency,” Klopp said. “Mo is just delivering and delivering and delivering, his desire doesn’t stop. His quality is anyway there, but then his desire to score just doesn’t stop.

“He improved in so many aspects since he started here. He will not stop, so I’m less surprised than maybe some others. I thought it had already happened, to be honest, in this season, but he was injured for a while and that’s why he couldn’t do it [earlier]. Otherwise, it would have happened in January or February.

“So, great, very good and, as I said, great to have him back.”

Klopp, who is leaving Liverpool at the end of the season after nine years at the club, was asked whether he “felt sorry for Sparta” during the hammering.

Klopp celebrates after the drubbing. - Peter Byrne/Press Association/AP
Klopp celebrates after the drubbing. - Peter Byrne/Press Association/AP

“There is a quality difference,” he replied, revealing that he’d spoken to Sparta’s manager, Brian Priske, after the game. “That was clear before the game and it is always like this: if the team with the higher quality shows a good attitude, which we did, then it will be tricky. Where is the chance?

“A long time in my life, I obviously worked for a smaller club – not that Sparta are a small club – but I worked in Germany for a smaller club with Mainz. You can win games, but you need a little bit of help from the opponent – we didn’t give any help [tonight].

“The boys showed a top, top, top attitude and so it was difficult and then we all know how these things can go.”

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