Premier League • England

Liverpool star on a ‘different level’ to Salah despite hat-trick, as pundit names trait Klopp cannot replace

Roberto Firmino, Harvey Elliott, Kostas Tsimikas, October 2022

Ally McCoist felt Roberto Firmino was the star of the show for Liverpool against Rangers, claiming his intelligence and goals outshone Mohamed Salah’s hat-trick.

Following Sunday’s defeat to Arsenal, the Reds got back to winning ways in style. And the 7-1 win at Ibrox was eye-catching in more ways than just the scoreline.

It was Rangers’ heaviest defeat in Europe – in Liverpool’s first-ever competitive trip to Ibrox.

Meanwhile, second-half substitute Salah netted the fastest-ever Champions League hat-trick. To round off the scoring, Harvey Elliott scored his first goal in Europe’s elite competition.

But according to ex-Rangers man McCoist, it was Firmino – who also starred with two goals and an assist – who stole the show with his awareness throughout.

“I thought Liverpool were outstanding in the second half, the substitutes showed the gulf in class,” the pundit told BT Sport.

“To bring on Salah, Thiago [Alcantara], [Andy] Robertson, guys which probably start normally.

“Before the game, we were speaking about [Darwin] Nunez and Firmino. Firmino in particular, I know Salah came on and got his hat-trick, but I thought the game intelligence overall shown tonight with Firmino was on a different level.

“I thought he was outstanding tonight.”

Liverpool actually went behind to Rangers in the first half. The raucous Ibrox atmosphere inspired Scott Arfield to make it 1-0 after 17 minutes. But, Firmino made it 1-1 and after he scored again 10 minutes into the second half, the Reds goals began to flow.

Liverpool substitutes make the difference

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand claimed the 7-1 victory is exactly the result Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp needed.

“The substitutes that came off the bench changed the game completely. Salah coming off the bench, Thiago, really solidified what they built in this game,” he said.

“Klopp will be pleased, they needed this. They needed a game like this, a result, with certain people like Firmino and Salah getting goals.

“They can look forward to the game at the weekend.”

Indeed, Liverpool will now head into Sunday’s Premier League clash with Manchester City with confidence.

Kevin de Bruyne and Nathan Ake have both warned they are expecting a much better Liverpool side at Anfield – something like the one on show at Ibrox – rather than the one which has faced criticism in recent weeks.

What went wrong for Rangers?

As for Rangers’ defeat, Michael Owen felt the Scottish giants ran out of steam after an all-action first-half display.

“It just looked like they punched themselves out in that first half and I think you get that,” he said.

“When there’s a bit of class difference between teams, then I think the second half… the class tells at the end, tired legs.

“It’s upsetting for Rangers because they possibly didn’t deserve to concede seven, but there was a gulf in class.”

Reds must prove credentials in familiar situation

Liverpool have been here before this season, getting the gremlins out of their systems with a thumping win in their next game.

After a 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford to Manchester United, the Reds smashed Bournemouth for nine at Anfield.

And while Liverpool then made it two Premier League wins in a row against Newcastle, they were anything but convincing.

Skip forward to October and Klopp’s side have hit back at defeat to Arsenal by putting seven past Rangers.

They must now prove they can build on such a result, rather than let it fade away into the distance like the Bournemouth win did.

Against Man City, that will be much easier said than done. Nevertheless, the win over Rangers will at least give Liverpool confidence.