Liverpool storm back into Champions League

Rampant Reds will discover their fate at 5pm today in draw for group stage

Emre Can of Liverpool
Liverpool midfielder Emre Can celebrates his team's first goal against Hoffenheim
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Liverpool 4 Hoffenheim 2 (Liverpool win 6-3 on aggregate)

It was a case of job well done for Liverpool on Wednesday night as the Reds avoided any European banana skins and eased into the group stages of the Champions League.

Having laid the foundations last week in the first leg at Hoffenheim with a solid 2-1 victory, the English club let rip at Anfield, producing an aggressive and adventurous performance that overpowered their German visitors.

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Three goals in the first 20 minutes put the tie to bed but Hoffenheim, appearing in their first European competition, deserved credit for not giving up, and for scoring two goals to at least keep up the pretence of a contest.

Emre Can opened the scoring on 10 minutes, his deflected shot finding its way into the Hoffenheim net, and Mohamed Salah made it 2-0 on 18 minutes when he bundled a rebound over the line. Barely two minutes later a third was added, Can scoring his second of the night thanks to Roberto Firmino's assist.

Staring defeat in the face, Hoffenheim made a bold change on 24 minutes, introducing Mark Uth in a tactical rethink, and the gamble paid off with his goal just before the half-hour mark.

But Firmino, once of Hoffenheim, killed off his former club's hope of a remarkable second-half comeback when he scored Liverpool's fourth of the night after good work from Jordan Henderson. Sandro Wagner scored a second for the visitors late on but that didn't detract one iota from an impressive Liverpool display.

Their reward is a place in today's draw (to be made at 5pm UK time) for the group stage of the Champions League, alongside Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United.

"The start of the game was like a thunderstorm,” declared Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

"If you win away 2-1 the opponent could imagine that you'd sit back and wait to counter attack. We thought it would make sense to do it differently, high pressure. We did it really well, what we played was really fantastic."

Praising the attitude of his squad during the last year or so, Klopp said "it's what we worked for in the last 14 months" and as for the inevitable question about likely opponents in the group stage, the German replied: "There will be a few nice and difficult opponents but no one with this atmosphere [at Anfield] wants to get us in the group stage... I'm really looking forward to the draw."

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