Inter Milan 0-2 Liverpool: Reds in command after Firmino and Salah goals
Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah struck late to put Liverpool in command of their Champions League tie with Inter Milan thanks to a 2-0 win at San Siro.
Inter looked the most dangerous of the two sides across the first hour, with Hakan Calhanoglu rattling the crossbar inside 16 minutes.
However, after replacing Diogo Jota at half-time, substitute Firmino glanced an excellent header across goal to score with the game's first effort on target in the 75th minute.
Salah doubled Liverpool's advantage eight minutes later with a deflected shot, leaving Inter with it all to do in the return leg of the last-16 showdown at Anfield on March 8.
Jurgen Klopp's men had a chance to open the scoring in the 14th minute, but Sadio Mane was unable to keep his header from the edge of the six-yard box down.
Inter went closer two minutes later, with Calhanoglu finding a pocket of space in the box before seeing his snapshot come back off the woodwork.
Lautaro Martinez arrived just too late to turn in an Ivan Perisic cross as the hosts started the second half brightly, while Edin Dzeko saw a goal correctly disallowed for offside in the 60th minute.
The introduction of Luis Diaz gave Liverpool fresh impetus, but it was Firmino who broke the deadlock with a fine header.
Salah ensured the victory was beyond doubt when his shot squirmed over the line in the 83rd minute, putting a place in the quarter-finals firmly within Liverpool's reach.
What does it mean? Milestone for Klopp
Thanks to Liverpool's late double, Klopp became the first German coach and only the eighth in history to reach 50 wins in the Champions League.
Having beaten Milan in the group stage, the Reds became only the second side to defeat the Rossoneri and Inter in the same season in Europe's premier club competition – Harry Redknapp's Tottenham being the only other team to achieve the feat.
Elliott makes history
In a big call by Klopp, Harvey Elliott was handed a Champions League debut at the heart of Liverpool's midfield.
At 18 years and 318 days old, he became the youngest player to start a match for Liverpool in Europe's premier club competition.
It may not have been his best performance, but Salah marked his 50th Champions League appearance for Liverpool with a goal – his 33rd in the competition overall and eighth this season.
It was his 10th goal in their past eight away Champions League matches.
Key Opta facts
- Liverpool have won all seven of their Champions League matches this season, extending what is their longest winning run in European Cup/Champions League.
- This is this sixth time that Liverpool have won the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie away from home; they have progressed from each of the previous five.
- Inter suffered their first home defeat to an English side in European competition since March 2008, when they also lost to Liverpool in the Champions League (0-1), ending a six-game unbeaten run at home to English opposition (W5 D1).
- Liverpool's Mohamed Salah has scored in each of his last eight away appearances in the Champions League, the second-longest ever such run by a single player, after Cristiano Ronaldo (12 appearances from 2013 to 2015).
Liverpool take on Norwich at Anfield in the Premier League on Saturday, while Inter entertain Sassuolo on Sunday.