Jurgen Klopp declared himself ‘very happy’ as his much changed side ran out 5-1 winners in the Europa League. The victory against a French side that they were realistically never likely ‘Toulouse’ to, saw goals from Diogo Jota, Wataru Endo, Darwin Nunez, Mo Salah and man of the match Ryan Gravenberch. Along with a result, that surely cements their place in the knock-out rounds, it also saw debuts for three youngsters – an evening that Klopp described as ‘perfect’.
It was Jota, so dependable in front of goal, who struck first. Only 10 minutes had passed as he danced around several opposing players before hammering home in front of the Anfield Road. Liverpool though, were never given an easy ride by Toulouse, who soon equalised. Left-back debutant Luke Chambers, at the club since he was six years of age, was caught too far upfield, Trent Alexander-Arnold played Dallanga on-side and the striker finished with aplomb past Kelleher.
Parity, however, was short lived. Endo steering a header into the corner of the net from a pinpoint Trent cross, whilst Nunez, a constant threat, put Liverpool 3-1 up with a neat near post effort before half-time after a surging run from Liverpool’s recent acquisition from Bayern Munich. Gravenberch, energetic and probing throughout, was outstanding, setting the tempo and out running a French midfield who themselves were never short of effort or commitment.
That commitment from Toulouse was on display from minute one of the second half. They began the second period with sustained purpose, cheered on by their fans who sang their hearts out for the entirety of the match. Even when falling further behind, when Nunez somehow hit the post after rounding the goalkeeper in front of the Kop, leaving the ever present Gravenberch to round off his performance, with a deserved goal.
The fourth goal, coming midway through the second half, finally dented the confidence of the visitors. Confidence that surely would have soared had they scored from the open goal presented to them by Kelleher, whose blushes were spared by Trent clearing off the line. So what should have been 3-2 became 4-1, and then five, as late substitute Salah, completed the rout, yet, the contribution from young full back Scanlan, should be noted. Another debutant, he surged up the left wing in the final moments, creating the momentum for the Egyptian to add to the score sheet.
So a ‘perfect’ night indeed. A last minute debut by McConnell put the icing on the cake. No injuries, five different scorers, important players getting minutes in their legs, and a 100% record in Europe.