With Jurgen Klopp still waiting for his star goalkeeper Allison Becker to rejoin the squad, Adrian continued in goal for Liverpool. The strong back-four of Andrew Robertson, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, and Trent Alexander-Arnold were quite stumped by a Red Bull attack that saw the Reds concede three goals.
Georginio Wijnaldum, Fabinho, and Jordan Henderson took charge of the Reds' midfield, leaving the attacking trio of former Salzburg man Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino - celebrating his 28th birthday today - and Mohamed Salah to lead the proceedings upfront.
The scoring opened quite early in the game, with Sadio Mane putting Liverpool ahead after nine minutes of play. A surging run into the final third, coupled with a perfect one-two pass with Firmino was all the Senegalese attacker needed to place the ball around Cican Stankovic and into the net.
25 minutes into the game, a beautiful piece of attacking play from Liverpool's marauding wingbacks brought the second goal in. Andrew Robertson began the play, sending it to the midfielders and then dashing right into the centre of the box to receive a cross from Alexander-Arnold. All Robertson needed was a touch on the ball, and that proved too much for Stankovic, who found the ball in the back of the net.
Liverpool made it 3-0 in the 36th minute, thanks to Salah's quick reflexes. A cross from Sadio Mane to Firmino found Stankovic, who parried it out for Salah to put it beyond the goalie's reach.
Only three minutes later, Hwang Hee-chan scored what, unbeknownst to Liverpool, was the start of a shocking Red Bull comeback. Liverpool held possession poorly, allowing Salzburg to start a quick attack near the Reds' final third. Hwang picked up the pass, dashed into the box, faked a shot that deceived van Dijk, and powered a shot past Adrian into the right corner of the goal.
Just over 10 minutes into the second half, a quick freekick by Salzburg took the Liverpool defence by surprise and ended with a goal by Takumi Minamino. A very unmarked Hwang on the left-wing sent in a brilliant cross to Minamino, and the winger powered a bouncing shot past Adrian into the left corner of the net.
Four minutes after their second goal, Salzburg evened the game, much to the shock of the crowd at Anfield. The man of the moment was Erling Haland, who had only just come in as a substitute. Minamino sighted his unmarked teammate running into the six-yard box and sent a perfect cross for Haland to simply tap in.
The ecstatic Red Bull crowds were calmed down eventually, thanks to Salah's finish that saved Liverpool's neck and handed his club all three points. A poor clearance from the Salzburg defence allowed Firmino to head down a through-pass to an on-rushing Salah. The Egyptian powered the ball into the back of the net, effectively ending Salzburg's comeback celebrations.
Without further ado, let's take a look at three players who impressed and two who were poor during the game.
The Japanese winger had a beautiful day on the field, many thanks to Liverpool's unsuspecting defence. While the Liverpool attack might have been a major threat, Takumi Minamino ensured that his presence at Anfield was thoroughly noticed.
He capped his excellent performance with an assist and a goal, aiding Salzburg's unexpected comeback in more ways than one. He took three shots at goal, putting two on target, and scoring one. He also had three key passes, as many as Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino each.