Salah makes Liverpool history with 20th goal of the season in rout of Sparta Prague

Egyptian on target in 6-1 win as Liverpool progress to Europa League quarter-finals 11-2 on aggregate

Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring Liverpool's third goal against Sparta Prague to send the Reds on their way to a 6-1 win on the night. AP
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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says Mohamed Salah's relentless drive to keep scoring will never stop after the Egyptian created more history on Thursday.

Salah's goal in the 6-1 thrashing of Sparta Prague was his 20th of an injury interrupted campaign, and made him the first Liverpool player to reach that mark in seven successive seasons.

It took Salah's Reds tally to 206 goals since joining from Roma in 2017 – he trails only Roger Hunt and Ian Rush – and with Liverpool fighting for three more trophies to add to their League Cup triumph last month his return to fitness is a welcome boost for Klopp.

“In seven years together with him, the one problem we never had was consistency,” said Klopp after the Egypt international’s first start since New Year’s Day after a hamstring injury sustained at the Africa Cup of Nations in January.

“Mo is just delivering and delivering and delivering, his desire doesn’t stop, his quality is there and his desire to score doesn’t stop.

“He has improved in so many aspects since he started here. That’s how it is, he will not stop.

“I’m less surprised than maybe some others, I thought it had already happened to be honest but he was injured for a while, otherwise he would have done it in January or February.

“But great, very good, and great to have him back.”

Salah also provided two assists for Bobby Clark and Cody Gakpo, who scored twice, with Darwin Nunez and Dominik Szoboszlai also on target.

He completed his first 90 minutes in two months but Klopp admitted he had wanted to rest him earlier.

“It was not the plan he plays 90 minutes, the plan was to take him off when we brought on Mateusz [Musialowski] but Bobby Clark said [he felt something] and Mo is experienced enough that he recovers during the game.

“I told him not to defend any more – I never told a player that before.”

Liverpool progressed to the quarter-finals 11-2 on aggregate after an early blitz ruled out any remote hopes of a comeback from the Czech champions.

Sparta head coach Brian Priske accepted his side had been totally outclassed.

“Big respect to Liverpool how they played these two legs, the level from Sparta to Liverpool is massive. It is a completely different level,” he said.

“We never faced something like this. Liverpool is a Champions League team and they should be playing in the Champions League.”

Leverkusen still unbeaten

Bayer Leverkusen boss Xabi Alonso has been heavily linked as Klopp's successor at Anfield when the German departs at the end of the season, and his side remain unbeaten in all competitions this season thanks to Patrik Schick's stoppage-time double to beat Qarabag 3-2 on the night and 5-4 on aggregate.

Schick also struck in added time during the first leg as Leverkusen came from 2-0 down and they needed to do the same at home.

Abdellah Zoubir and Juninho gave the Azeri champions a stunning lead.

But the visitors paid for having to play the final half hour down to 10 men as Elvin Cafarguliyev was sent off for hauling down Jeremie Frimpong.

Frimpong reduced the arrears before Schick turned home at the near post on 93 minutes.

And there was still time for the Czech forward to head in the winner seven minutes into added time.

"The team has done it once more," Schick said of Leverkusen's extended unbeaten run. "It's no coincidence. We fight until the last minute, the team spirit that we have at the moment is unbelievable."

West Ham roar back against Freiburg

West Ham trailed 1-0 from the first leg against Freiburg but roared back to reach a European quarter-final for the third consecutive season.

Lucas Paqueta turned home a corner at the far post before Jarrod Bowen blasted home to turn the tie around before half time.

Aaron Cresswell arrowed a shot into the far corner and Mohammed Kudus then took centre stage to secure a record European win for David Moyes' men.

The Ghanaian ran from deep inside his own half through the heart of the Freiburg midfield and defence to slot in the fourth.

And Kudus then smashed home from the edge of the box.

"Obviously we've got two or three exceptional individual players who helped us get goals," said Moyes. "It was a brilliant performance for us to win by five."

Milan march on

Seven-time European champions AC Milan cruised into the last eight with a 3-1 win over 10-man Slavia Prague.

Three quick goals from Christian Pulisic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Rafael Leao killed off the tie before half-time.

"Today, we controlled the game more, scored three goals, and the course of the match was quite clear," Milan manager Stefano Pioli said.

The second half was uneventful until six minutes from time when Matej Jurasek claimed a consolation goal for Slavia.

Milan faced a concern as keeper Mike Maignan was forced off the pitch early due to a knee injury.

"He felt a pain in his knee, he was already better now. It doesn't seem like anything too worrying, let's see how she reacts tomorrow," Pioli said.

Brighton and Rangers bow out

Brighton left themselves too much to do as a 1-0 win over Roma could not overturn a 4-0 first-leg deficit.

Danny Welbeck scored the only goal as the Seagulls at least ended their first-ever European campaign on a high.

Benfica ended Rangers' hopes of another deep run in the Europa League with a 1-0 win in the lashing Glasgow rain to progress 3-2 on aggregate.

Rafa Silva produced a composed finish from Angel Di Maria's through ball 24 minutes from time and the goal stood after initially being ruled offside.

Villarreal ended Jean-Louis Gasset's unbeaten run as Marseille boss but a 3-1 victory in Spain was too little, too late for the Spaniards as they went out 5-3 on aggregate.

Atalanta beat Sporting Lisbon 2-1 on the night in Italy to go through 3-2 on aggregate.

The draw for the Europa League quarter-finals takes place on Friday.

Updated: March 15, 2024, 5:34 AM