Liverpool take a huge step towards the Champions League quarter-finals after scoring two late goals against Inter Milan in the San Siro Stadium.
The Reds looked set for a goalless draw in the first leg in Italy until Brazil forward Roberto Firmino got on the end of Andrew Robertson’s corner to head his side into the lead.
Mohamed Salah added a second with a deflected effort from inside the box which means Jurgen Klopp’s side take a sizeable advantage into the second leg at Anfield on 8 March.
Italian champions Inter hit the bar through Hakan Çalhanoglu and were on top for long periods of the second half before Firmino struck in the 75th minute.
Liverpool scored from their only two attempts on target and will be firm favourites to progress when the two sides meet in the deciding leg next month.
It was a particularly memorable night for midfielder Harvey Elliott, who became the youngest player ever to start a match in the competition for Liverpool at the age of 18 years and 318 days.
The only negative on an otherwise upbeat night for the Reds was an injury to Portugal forward Diogo Jota, who was replaced by goalscorer Firmino at the start of the second half after taking a knock.
Lethal Reds impress in Italy
Liverpool have now won seven matches in all competitions, with this arguably the most impressive of the current run.
But Jurgen Klopp’s team had to dig deep as Inter looked the more threatening side after a strong start by the Premier League club.
Former Manchester City forward Edin Dzeko found himself clean through in the first half before a vital challenge by Virgil van Dijk, who was captaining the Reds in the absence of Jordan Henderson.
The hosts went close again when Ivan Perisic whipped in a cross, but Lautaro Martinez was unable to give Inter the lead.
In a fascinating match, Liverpool took the lead through Firmino’s glancing 75th-minute header before Salah doubled the lead eight minutes later.
There is still work to do for Klopp’s team but it is going to require something extra special from Inter to turn this tie around.
Liverpool remain in the hunt for four trophies and could have one in the bag by the time Inter visit Merseyside, with the Reds facing Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on 27 February.
Teenager Elliott embraces San Siro stage
Despite it only being half full because of Covid-19 restrictions, there was an incredible atmosphere inside the San Siro for the first meeting between these two clubs for 14 years.
Elliott, who does not turn 19 until April, embraced the occasion on what was his first start since suffering a serious ankle injury in September.
The teenager did not look out of place on one of the most famous stages in world football and produced a cross in the first half which was just cut out before Salah could poke it over the line.
Elliott was replaced in the 59th minute as part of a triple change as Klopp attempted to turn the tide as Inter threatened – a move that worked as Liverpool went on to establish a strong advantage.
- 6de VrijSubstituted forRanocchiaat 87’minutes
- 95BastoniSubstituted forDimarcoat 90+1’minutes
- 2DumfriesSubstituted forDarmianat 87’minutes
- 22VidalSubstituted forGagliardiniat 87’minutes
- 10MartínezSubstituted forSánchezat 70’minutes
- 4van Dijk
- 67ElliottSubstituted forKeïtaat 59’minutes
- 3FabinhoSubstituted forHendersonat 59’minutes
- 6Thiago AlcántaraSubstituted forMilnerat 86’minutes
- 20JotaSubstituted forFirminoat 45’minutes
- 10ManéSubstituted forDíazat 59’minutes
- Szymon Marciniak
Match ends, Inter Milan 0, Liverpool 2.
Second Half ends, Inter Milan 0, Liverpool 2.
Foul by Naby Keïta (Liverpool).
Roberto Gagliardini (Inter Milan) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Inter Milan. Federico Dimarco replaces Alessandro Bastoni.
Substitution, Inter Milan. Andrea Ranocchia replaces Stefan de Vrij.
Substitution, Inter Milan. Matteo Darmian replaces Denzel Dumfries.
Substitution, Inter Milan. Roberto Gagliardini replaces Arturo Vidal.
Foul by James Milner (Liverpool).
Milan Skriniar (Inter Milan) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Liverpool. James Milner replaces Thiago.
Foul by Naby Keïta (Liverpool).
Arturo Vidal (Inter Milan) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Goal! Inter Milan 0, Liverpool 2. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner following a set piece situation.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Arturo Vidal (Inter Milan).
Attempt missed. Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Stefan de Vrij.
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Stefan de Vrij (Inter Milan).