Liverpool win Group E with Coutinho hat trick


He sneered: "If Liverpool were playing in my back garden, I wouldn't watch them".

Spartak, meanwhile, must win tonight if they are to reach the knockout stages for the first time since 1995-96, with anything other than victory condemning them to Europa League football after Christmas. The German keeper has been favoured by Klopp in European competition. Perhaps it is for the best. Antonio Conte said it yesterday - there are no easy opponents and I don't think anyone is happy when they get us in the draw.

"This underlines Liverpool's strengths and their weakness wasn't tested, their defence".

Liverpool are no longer reliant on the abilities of a lone talisman.

Jurgen Klopp named an attacking side featuring Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Philippe Coutinho as captain, and they repaid his faith in style. They have a quartet which is now equal to Barca's own illustrious forward line in its potency, if not greater.

"Spartak Moscow is a really good side, I know you won't think so now but they are hard to play against". Since a chastening defeat to Tottenham in October, they have now scored 32 times in nine games.

Coutinho added another two minutes later, latching onto another Milner cross and firing another left-footed effort in via a Spartak defender to make the score an astounding 5-0 by the 50th minute.

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Up stepped Captain (for the night) Coutinho to coolly dispatch the penalty. The rest of his supporting cast would also find themselves on the score sheet in a rout which nearly rivalled their 8-0 win over Besiktas in the same competition, a record which has now stood for over a decade.

Despite a slow start to the group stages the reds have won the group by some distance and there has been a glut of goals scored by Liverpool's mean and lean attacking machine.

But is such an approach capable of working against the top teams in the Premier League?

Loris Karius, continuing his run in Europe, was not without occasional work, first denying Luiz Adriano and later saving comfortably from Quincy Promes. That is not taking a lot away from Liverpool because the goals were great. Infamously surrendering a three-goal lead in last month's clash with Sevilla was a classic case, and Klopp's reign has been littered with similar examples. Spartak barely had chance to reorganise before Liverpool's attacking foursome were wreaking havoc again. It's not often you can face Bayern Munich, Real Madrid or Juve if you win your group.

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They now have every reason to believe that history will repeat itself for a third time. He filed this report from Liverpool's Anfield stadium.