89 min: “Mane could be on for a Salvador Dali-esque surrealist hat-trick,” writes Paul Griffin. “He’s scored an nonsensical scissor-kick rocket for the first and affected an absurdist rabona for his second. He just needs to convert the ball into a melting spoon to get the full set. It’s a difficult technique but I’m backing him.”
86 min: Standing with his hands on his hips in the Spartak Moscow goal, Aleksandr Selikov looks thoroughly fed up with life after picking the ball out of his net for the seventh time. He’s done little wrong and made a few decent saves, but there was certainly nothing he could do about that shot Salah rifled into the roof of the net. He received a pass from the left, took out a defender with a feint as he shifted the ball from one foot to the other and then buried the ball into the roof of the net.
GOAL! Liverpool 7-0 Spartak Moscow (Salah 85)
Salah finally gets on the score-sheet and it’s a fine strike into the roof of the net from eight yards out.
82 min: Daniel Sturridge – who I’ve just referred to as Danny Welbeck for weird reasons I can’t quite fathom – latches on to a sublime pass from Philippe Coutinh, takes the ball around goalkeeper Aleksandr Selikov and is brought down. Perhaps out of sympathy for the Russian side, the referee doesn’t award a penalty.
81 min: Spartyak embark on a rare sortie into Liverpool territory, only for their attack to break down when Ropman Zobnin gave the ball to Trent Alexander-Arnold.
78 min: Spartak substitution from a few minutes ago: Aleksandr Samedov on, Quincy Promes off.
75 min: It’s single-bagel for Liverpool, who have notched up a tennis score against their Russian visitors. Daniel Sturridge got in behind the Spartak defence down the inside right and squared the ball for Mane, who was up in support. The pass was a little behind Sane, but no matter – he more or less bundled it over the line from close rage with his standing foot.
GOAL! Liverpool 6-0 Spartak Moscow (Mane 76)
Sadio Mane scores his second of the night to make it a round half-dozen for Liverpool.
76 min: “Commentary farce is claiming another victim here,” writes another Alex, in Boston. “Trying to listen to the audio stream on my phone at work, but it’s not built for mobile. If we’re going to muscle out the likes of 5 Live then we should at least have our own media platforms up to scratch.”
73 min: Sturridge is flagged for offside as he mistimes his run on to a ball from deep down the inside left channel.
72 min: Liverpool substitution: Roberto Firmino goes off with one goal and one assist to his name and is replaced by Daniel Sturridge.
70 min: Liverpool seem to be taking something resembling pity on their guests and some of the sting seems to have gone out of their attack. They’re not attacking with the same kind of intensity which has been the hallmark of
their game this evening.
66 min: “Off the field things aren’t quite so peachy,” writes Alex Lomax. “No-one thought to tell the IT guys that the BBC had been refused rights for live commentary, the LFC login server has been down since 7.30.”
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64 min: Spartak midfielder Fernando is booked for clattering through the back of James Milner. A minute or so later, Firmino tries to tee up Sane for a shot on goal, only for his deft pass to be hacked clear by a defender.
62 min: Mo Salah goes close to getting among the goals, only to be denied by a fine save from Selikov, who dives low to his right to save the curling effort, It’s a bit of a shame, really – while Selikov deserves a break, Salah took out two Spartak players with a wonderful drag-back en route to goal and could have bagged himself a fine individual effort.
60 min: Liverpool substitution: Dejan Lovren off, Trent Alexander-Arnold on. Spartak Moscow substitution: Georgi Dzhikiya off, Chelsea loanee Mario Pasalic on. With his team 5-0 down, he doesn’t look like a man who’s relishing the opportunity of playing in the Champions League at Anfield.
59 min: Coutinho picks out James Milner on the left with a neat ball through the Spartak penalty area, but the substitu8te is unable to squaeeze the ball through the corridor of uncertainty for Mo Salah.
58 min: Meanwhile in Slovenia, Maribor continue to lead Sevilla 1-0 in this group’s other fixture.
55 min: Mo Salah hasn’t got among the goals yet tonight but looks on the verge of getting on the scoresheet with a shot from 20 yards until Spartak right-back Andri Eschenko intervenes.
54 min: As Coutinho celebrated his deflected effort from 20 yards, Massimo Carrera replaced his striker Ze Luis with Lorenzo Melgarejo. One suspects Ze Luis is glad to be out of there. No pressure, Lorenzo. Just the six goals required.
51 min: Selikov is forced to pick the ball out of the net again as Philippe Coutinho completes his hat-trick in front of the Kop with the scruffiest goal of the night. His shot took a heavy deflection on the way in, giving the wrong-footed goalkeeper no chance.
GOAL! Liverpool 5-0 Spartak Moscow (Coutinho 50)
Stick a fork in this Russian team. They. Are. Done.
49 min: That was a sensational volley from Mane. With his first touch of note, Milner whipped an out-swinger of a cross in from the left. Mane was running on to it and his technique was sublime as he sort of scissor-kicked a diagonal volley past the hapless Russian goalkeeper, who probably didn’t see the ball, such was the venom with which it was struck.
GOAL! Liverpool 4-0 Spartak Moscow (Mane 47)
Oh lord! Sadio Mane sends a volley screaming past Aleksandr Selikov after getting on the end of a James Milner cross.
46 min: No changes in personnel during the interval, which first half substitute James Milner spent out on the pitch warming up with one of Liverpool’s backroom staff.
Second half: Liverpool 3-0 Spartak Moscow
46 min: Liverpool get the second half party started and it’s difficult to imagine them not scoring another few goals against a Spartak side that have been totally unable to cope with the blistering pace of Salah, Mane, Firmino and Coutinho. It’s difficult to imagine what, if any, solutions Spartak manager Massimo Carrera, who was Antonio Conte’s No2 at Juventus, might have had to offer his players. His side need to win tonight, so can’t really afford an exercise in damage limitation. However, if his players do go for broke, they could face total humiliation.
Half-time: Liverpool 3-0 Spartak Moscow
That’s your lot for a first half in which Liverpool completely crushed Spartak Moscow. Philippe Coutinho bagged two and Roberto Firmino got the other in a half where Sadio Mane and MOhamed Salah also spurned decent chances. Liverpool have, however, lost Alberto Moreno to what might be a serious injury (knacked ankle ligaments, perhaps) given the player’s reaction as he walked off. He was distraught, in tears as he hobbled off the pitch.
45 min: Moreno goes down injured again and will shortly be replaced by James Milner. Yup, Liverpool substitution: Moreno off, Milner on. Moreno looked very upset as he walked off; here’s hoping his injury is not too serious.
44 min: Moreno hobblers to the sideline before coming back on. He’s still limping badly, but Liverpool’s medical team will probably reassess him at half-time.
41 min: There’s a break in play as Alberto Moreno receives treatment for what looks like a twisted left ankle sustained as he hung his leg out to block a pile-driver of a shot from Ze Luis.
39 min: Now Salah shoots inches over the bar after being put through. Liverpool are so rampant here, a court stenographer would struggle to keep up with them, let alone me with my sausage fingers skittering around a crisp crumb-covered keyboard. Georgi Dzhikiya, who I was hoping would have a quiet night tonight due to the difficulties his name presents for those of us trying to type minute-by-minute reports, is having an absolute nightmare. Already responsible for the concession of two Liverpool goals, he is very, very lucky to avoid a second yellow card for deliberate hand-ball.
36 min: Sadio Mane blazes a right-footed shot over the bar when scoring looked easier after being put through on goal by a delightful back-heeled flick from Mo Salah.
33 min: Loris Karius, Joe Gomez and Luiz Adriano end up in a tangled heap outside the Liverpool penalty area after the Liverpool goalkeeper charge out of his penalty area to clear a through ball the other two were chasing. Gomez had it covered, so we can only assume Karius was bored.