Liverpool may have thought they were cruising when they found themselves 3-0 up inside 36 minutes at home to RB Salzburg in the Champions League last night.
Goals from Sadio Mane, Andrew Robertson and Mohamed Salah initially put the hosts three goals to the good at Anfield, before Hwan Hee-chan pulled one back for the visitors coming up to half-time.
Two goals in quick succession after the break, firstly from Takumi Minamino and then from wonderkid Erling Braut Haaland, saw the game temporarily levelled, before another goal from Salah settled proceedings for Liverpool, with the tie ending 4-3.
Although the majority of the plaudits will go to Salah and Sadio Mane last night given their goals (ESPN handed them 8/10 and 9/10 respectively), and rightly so, there was another man who was yet again quietly effective for the Reds against the Austrian outfit.
Roberto Firmino did not find the net last night, but he did assist three of Liverpool’s four goals. The Brazilian was awarded an overall rating of 8.39 for his performance from WhoScored, and, alongside his assists, registered two shots on goal, one accurate long ball, one accurate through ball, as well as a successful tackle and interception for his side.
Firmino’s performance last night epitomised the two things he is all about as a footballer: selflessness and effectiveness.
The South American frequently displays this style of play – proven by his stats from this season already, which show that the 28-year-old has already registered seven assists in all competitions (as per Transfermarkt) alongside scoring three goals for the Reds as they sit top of the pile in the Premier League and second in their Champions League qualifying group.
He may not have found the net himself last night, but without Firmino, Liverpool could have found themselves in real trouble against a hard-working Salzburg side determined to upset the European champions in their own backyard.
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