Liverpool 6 – 1 Sparta Prague: Salah claims record-breaking goal as Liverpool hit Sparta Prague for six

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Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah warmed up for Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United with a record goal in Liverpool’s 6-1 demolition of Sparta Prague at Anfield.

Liverpool were all but guaranteed a quarter-final place after their 5-1 first-leg win, but four goals in the opening 13-and-a-half minutes kicked things off.

They were only the 2nd team in the history of UEFA’s major competitions to score four goals after Chelsea against Jeunesse Hautcharage in the 1971-72 Cup Winners’ Cup, but Mohamed Salah is one of those who have set a standard that they don’t live up to.

Mohamed Salah, who played the first 90 minutes since the New Year – due to the Africa Cup of Nations and a hamstring injury sustained at the tournament – scored the third goal for his 20th goal of the campaign.

It was the 7th consecutive season he had achieved the milestone and the first time any Liverpool player had achieved the feat in their 132-year history.

If anything needed to be tweaked ahead of the trip to Old Trafford then the Czech champions provided it as he also bagged two assists in that early blitz, with 19-year-old Bobby Clark benefiting from his first goal for the club and Cody Gakpo turning home his cross from close range.

Darwin Nunez opened the scoring with a clinical strike from 16 yards – just 7 minutes earlier – with the best of the quartet, but it was forgotten in the flurry of goals that followed as Sparta’s players were left chasing shadows and questioning their own abilities.

When the fourth goal was scored, captain Ladislav Krejčí, whose mistake led to the second, called a crisis meeting in the middle of the pitch.

It all seemed a bit futile, although their task at kick-off was improbable, their defending was so naive it bordered on embarrassing.

Midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai, who added two fifth minutes into the second half, crossed for Nunez to slot home in the seventh minute for his 17th of the season and sixth in as many games.

But instead of keeping it close, the visitors continued to play from the back and when Salah teed up Krejčí, the rebound fell kindly under keeper Peter Vindahl for Clarke.

He returned the favor when Clark brought down Jaroslav Zleny from the ball 25 yards out for Salah to pull home his landmark, Gakpo then converted the Egyptian’s cross from close range after some sloppy defending.

Darwin Nunez headed home Liverpool’s easiest chance from six yards from another Mohamed Salah cross before goalkeeper Conor Bradley parried a wild drive.

Veljko Birmancevic held off the retreating Wataru Endo to fire past Caoimhin Kelleher just before the break, but it was a short-lived respite as Szoboszlai’s drive deflected off the near post after Nunez, Endo and Joe Gomez were substituted at the break. the way in.

When Vindahl’s corner kick only reached the edge of the area, Harvey Elliott fired a low shot that Gakpo touched with a cheeky backheel.

The Netherlands international missed a famous chance for his hat-trick, flashing only the keeper to beat and, despite taking his tally to 13 for the season, is unlikely to start at the weekend.

Jurgen Klopp’s preferred front three of Salah, Nunez, and Luis Diaz will have 48 goals between them and the squad as a whole has 117 goals in 45 games.

They will fancy their chances against a United side who have kept just four clean sheets – including three against League One mid-table rivals Wigan and Premier League strugglers Nottingham Forest and Everton – as they became the only club in their last 55 matches to prevent Liverpool from scoring in a goalless draw in December.

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