Jack Bearne scored in stoppage time as Liverpool U19s came from two goals down to beat Salzburg 3-2 and secure automatic qualification for the last 16 of the UEFA Youth League.
Barry Lewtas’ side went into Tuesday’s Group E finale at Untersberg Arena knowing a point would be enough to seal top spot in the pool.
However, they appeared destined for a second-placed finish and a play-off tie as goals from Luka Sucic and Tobias Anselm put Salzburg, who would have won the group with a victory, in command at half-time.
But an impressive, spirited fightback after the break was richly rewarded. Harvey Elliott pulled one back with a 67th-minute penalty, before Tom Hill’s inventive, looping header drew the young Reds level.
And late, late drama was to follow, as Bearne slid home Layton Stewart’s unselfish cut-back with the final kick of the match.
The quality provided by Elliott was evident amid a purposeful start from Liverpool, the 16-year-old wriggling free down the right and digging out a teasing cross inside the opening 30 seconds.
Salzburg goalkeeper Daniel Antosch gathered that delivery on the stretch and then saved a shot from Elliott, who bought space with a neat nutmeg before playing a one-two with Luis Longstaff.
Antosch’s reflexes were tested again soon after. Hill deceived his marker with a superb turn and powered a goal-bound effort towards the far corner, but Salzburg’s captain acrobatically tipped wide.
After enjoying near-total domination in the early stages, the young Reds were served a warning of the hosts’ threat on the counter when Karim Adeyemi burst free and shot, with Ben Winterbottom denying the forward.
And, 11 minutes in, they were undone by a long ball from the back, which Luka Sucic raced onto prior to clipping home the opener.
Leighton Clarkson drilled a first-time strike wide from Hill’s lay-off as Liverpool sought a quick reply, but their difficulties were to worsen midway through the half.
Again, a ball from deep caused problems, with the pacy Adeyemi getting on the end of the pass this time. His attempt was well stopped by Winterbottom, but Anselm was on hand to convert the rebound.
Neco Williams, captaining Liverpool with Curtis Jones part of the first-team squad, strode forward and saw a shot deflect into the side-netting, although it was Salzburg who continued to carry the greater threat.
Only a fine save from Winterbottom, who palmed Peter Pokorny’s low effort wide, prevented the home team from extending their advantage before the break.
Elliott saw strong appeals for a penalty dismissed after he’d brought Clarkson’s lofted pass under his spell and shaped to shoot, only for a defender to apparently impede him.
However, Liverpool were awarded a spot-kick in the 67th minute, when Antosch was penalised for dangerous play as he punched a cross clear while colliding with Elijah Dixon-Bonner.
Elliott did the rest, the forward coolly slotting in from 12 yards.
Salzburg went so close to restoring their two-goal cushion immediately, Pokorny rattling the top of the crossbar with a controlled, first-time strike once he’d been found free on the edge of the area from a corner.
And that moment was to prove pivotal.
First, Hill rounded off a fine Liverpool in style, deftly glancing Clarkson's cross in off the bar with 11 minutes remaining before tireless work from Stewart, who seized possession from a defender and set up Bearne, completed a remarkable comeback.
Liverpool U19s: Winterbottom, Williams, Hoever, Van den Berg, Norris (Boyes, 89), Clarkson, Dixon-Bonner (Stewart, 74), Cain (Clayton, 89), Longstaff (Bearne, 80), Elliott, Hill.
Unused substitutes: Davies, Savage, O’Rourke.
The Premier League are preparing to introduce concussion substitutes from the start of the 2020/21 season amid increasing concerns for player safety.
The debate around head injuries in football and how to handle such incidents remain prevalent as studies continue to show lasting and debilitating effects.
One of which showed footballers were three and a half times more likely to die of degenerative brain disease than the general population.
Football has been heavily scrutinised for its approach to head injuries across the world, and how to best change the laws to facilitate concussion substitutes is high on the agenda for the International Football Association Board in February.
Various systems are set to be recommended on a trial basis and according to the Daily Mail, the Premier League are “keen to be at the forefront of any experiments involving concussion subs” starting from next season.
IFAB will appoint a panel of medical experts who will present their findings over how football can best introduce concussion substitute protocols.
Early suggestions are two different methods are being considered, the first would see a player suspected of suffering from concussion to be removed and not allowed to return.
That player would then be replaced but the change would not count towards the permitted three substitutions.
Alternatively, an approach similar to rugby union and the AFL would see the player replaced and taken into the dressing room for a 10-15 minute assessment by the club doctor.
They will be able to return if they are deemed medically fit to do so, but if not the substitution would become permanent.
Following the meeting early next year, the Premier League will weigh up their options from IFAB’s findings before entering into discussions with each of the 20 clubs and holding a vote.
A more conservative approach would be a welcome and sensible change, but despite the international players’ union lobbying for independent doctors to assess concussion incidents at every game, IFAB are currently not considering this course of action.
This will likely see the debate rage on surrounding the rules potentially being used for tactical gain, but a player’s health has to be the priority and taken seriously – unlike the aftermath of Loris Karius‘ diagnosis following the Champions League final in 2018.
Who's going to play for the Reds, then?
You'll find out confirmed team news here first at around 4.40pm GMT, but we already know a bit about the options at Jürgen Klopp's disposal.
Gini Wijnaldum and Dejan Lovren are both fit and available, but Adam Lallana has not travelled and is out along with Fabinho and Joel Matip.
The boss told us on board the team flight yesterday that Lallana is expected to resume full training on Thursday.
Barry Lewtas considers Liverpool U19s' 7-0 win over Napoli in their last UEFA Youth League outing a perfect example of what his team is all about.
Curtis Jones netted a hat-trick during the tie in Kirkby as the young Reds bounced back in style from the preceding 1-0 defeat by Genk.
Lewtas’ side now face Salzburg on Tuesday afternoon in their final group fixture needing just a draw to secure automatic qualification for the last 16 of the competition.
If the Austrian outfit win the game, Liverpool are already assured of at least a play-off place.
In October, the Reds came back from 2-1 down in the final 15 minutes to beat Salzburg 4-2.
But Lewtas and his players learned from that meeting that they cannot take their opponents lightly.
Ahead of the 1pm GMT kick-off today, read on for the boss’ pre-match thoughts…
On facing Salzburg…
We know what we need to do, which is to get a positive result to qualify as group winners. We always go into every game with the mentality of trying to win. It was a tough game against Salzburg the first time around so we know this is not going to be easy. We have just got to concentrate on being ourselves really and being the best version of ourselves. We believe in the way we play with the players that we have got so we have just got to make sure we are at it and ready to go.
On a good start being key…
We need to start well and get a foothold in the game and get control. We are also not naive and we know Salzburg will be doing everything they can to try to stop us getting into our stride. They did that well at St Helens and we have seen how difficult they could make it for us so we’ve just got to make sure we start this game the way we finished our last game against Salzburg. The last 15 minutes we were exceptional. It’s going to be a really good game and a big challenge but one I can certainly tell you we will be ready for.
On the 7-0 win over Napoli in their last group game…
It was a fantastic performance. I thought the first 30 minutes for that level of football was great. The boys showed what they are about individually but I think what was more pleasing was how they did it all together as well and put it together for a team performance. We scored seven, we could have scored a lot more, which is a real shoutout to what we are all about and how we want to play. Keeping a clean sheet was important as well so hopefully we can get that in this next game.
On hat-trick hero Jones and his continuing influence…
Curtis has got big experience now in the UEFA Youth League and this is his third season playing in the competition. He is the captain and he has a responsibility to lead the group, which I think he does ever so well, not just in the dressing room but on the pitch by how he plays. Against Napoli he did that and more, I thought he was really good. Curtis has been one of many players who have really stood out for us in the UEFA Youth League.
Champions League holders Liverpool travel to Austria for Tuesday night's clash with Salzburg knowing a draw would make sure of progress from Group E.
The Reds will go through regardless of the result if Napoli lose at home to Genk in the other pool match, while Salzburg must win to have any chance of advancing.
Jesse Marsch's side narrowly lost 4-3 at Anfield earlier in the campaign, so can we expect another high-scoring affair at Red Bull Arena?
We spoke to Moritz Ablinger (@moritzzz_) of Austrian football magazine Ballesterer to get the lowdown...
What was the reaction like in Austria after the first game?
It was mainly admiration and pride, I think. Nobody gave them a chance at half-time. The match, I believe, really reinforced the impression that among the very good Salzburg teams of years past, this might be the best.
It was a close result at Anfield, what do you think Marsch learned from the encounter?
My hunch is that he will place a greater emphasis on defence and play it a bit more conservative this time.
What has Salzburg's form been like leading up to this second match?
They have struggled somewhat, relative to their standards at least. They 'only' won four out of their last seven league games, drawing the other three.
It's a must-win game for Die Mozartstadter, how will that affect their approach to the match?
That is tough to say. It will depend on how Marsch sees the match-up: if he thinks Salzburg's defence will be able to control and withstand LFC's attack, they could try to play a very controlled game and hope to score from set-pieces and a few counter-attacks. I would expect for him to do this.
Or, they could just as well drop their guard and hope to score one more goal than Liverpool. Salzburg, I suspect, are pretty dangerous in such a mode. I do not expect that to be Marsch's approach, but if the former does not work, the latter will come into play at some point.
Prolific young forward Erling Haaland has been making big headlines across Europe, just how good is he?
He is the best striker the Austrian Bundesliga has seen in a very long time. He seems to have a special sense of where the ball is going to arrive; his ability to anticipate is something I have very, very rarely seen before.
Furthermore, although his goals are almost never spectacular, his technique is superb - especially for a player of his size.
However, in recent weeks he has not been fully healthy. He sat out the match against St. Polten and hasn't played a full game since early November. This comes after already having to sit out two games in late September.
Which other players should Liverpool fans keep their eye on?
The Salzburg team features almost exclusively extremely dynamic players. Every one of them poses a threat. Haaland aside, Takumi Minamino may well be the best. Coming in from the right wing and seeing the pitch very well, he can create goals.
However, as his eight goals across all competitions (including one at Anfield) can attest, he scores them, too.
How do you think Salzburg will line up?
I firmly believe that Salzburg will use the 4-4-2 they almost always play, their outside midfielders playing a pivotal role in the attack.
In which areas do you see this game being won and lost?
Salzburg's defence needs to defend with all 11 players. If their offensive players do not help them in defending, I do not see Salzburg winning the match - regardless of how many goals they may score themselves.
Which Liverpool player do Salzburg fear the most?
I still do not know how they plan to neutralise Sadio Mane.
What is your score prediction for the match?
Liverpool winning 3-1.
Champions League 2019-20 Champions League 2019-20
Liverpool face a showdown with Salzburg in the Champions League on Tuesday as the Reds look to secure a spot in the last 16 of the competition.
Avoiding defeat in the Austrian city would see the current holders progress from Group E at the expense of Jesse Marsch's side, who were beaten 4-3 at Anfield in matchday two.
Here are three individual battles to watch out for…
Virgil van Dijk v Erling Haaland
Salzburg's potent young forward wasn't fit enough to start at Anfield in October, but that didn't stop him from doing what he does best.
It took him just four minutes to find the back of the net as a substitute, making it 3-3 in that meeting before Mohamed Salah's eventual winner.
The 19-year-old certainly feels at home in the Champions League. In what is his first taste of the competition, Haaland has been on the scoresheet in all five of Salzburg's matches.
Robert Lewandowski (10) is the only player to have scored more than Haaland's eight so far this term.
But to add to that impressive tally, the Norway international must find a way through Van Dijk and co.
Van Dijk, UEFA Men's Player of the Year for 2018-19, is boosted by the fact he and his teammates secured their first clean sheet in 14 matches at Bournemouth on Saturday.
"Obviously everybody was desperate for that, now we have it so let's have it more often," Jürgen Klopp said afterwards.
That particular quest starts on Tuesday.
Sadio Mane v Rasmus Kristensen
Mane will head back to Salzburg with fond memories. It was there where his 45 goals in 87 appearances across three seasons earned him a move to the Premier League.
He returns as a Champions League winner, the Golden Boot holder and – important in the context of this game – fully rested.
An unused substitute at Bournemouth, the No.10 can be unleashed against a Salzburg backline that has shipped 11 goals in Group E.
Right-back Kristensen is the player likely to be directly defending Mane once again.
The 22-year-old, who moved to Salzburg from Ajax in the summer, lauded Mane as a "complete football player" before October's meeting.
Mane would find the back of the net after nine minutes in that affair, a fixture Kristensen described as the "biggest" of his career.
But with a last-16 spot up for grabs, Kristensen will be even more determined to keep Mane quiet this time around.
Jordan Henderson v Takumi Minamino
Minamino was one of a number of Salzburg players that caught the eye at Anfield, and will be looking to do that again on Tuesday.
Despite being listed as a right-sided winger, the Japanese international pops up in all areas of the pitch.
Possessing nifty footwork, an eye for a pass and goalscoring threat, Liverpool will once again need to be wary of the 24-year-old.
He is set to drift into areas that will likely be marshalled by Klopp's defensive midfielder. That responsibility could very well be handed to Henderson.
It was the position the captain operated in at Bournemouth on Saturday as he regained possession 12 times (second-highest for the team) during the match, in addition to providing a lovely assist for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's opener.
"Hendo was brilliant in the middle as he always is," Oxlade-Chamberlain said afterwards.
A similar performance will be needed.
Liverpool last played a European tie in Austria in 2004, when a Steven Gerrard brace helped secure a 2-0 win over Grazer AK in Rafael Benitez's first game as manager - but can you remember the rest of the line-up from that night?
The Reds opened their Champions League campaign with this third qualifying round first-leg match at the Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadion and ended it with a penalty shootout victory over AC Milan in a thrilling final in Istanbul.
But what was the starting XI in Graz as Liverpool embarked on that long road? Can you fill in all our Missing Men below?
Fill in the answers in the quiz below, or click Next at the bottom of the page to reveal the Missing Men...
Jordan Henderson stands on the brink of another Liverpool landmark ahead of Tuesday's Champions League tie with Salzburg.
The captain, who made his 250th Premier League appearance for the Reds earlier this season, is one game shy of playing 50 times in Europe for the club.
Should Henderson feature in Austria, he would become the 21st man to reach a half-century of Liverpool appearances in European competition.
Read on for more pre-match facts and figures from LFC statistician Ged Rea…
Jürgen Klopp’s side will progress to the last 16 with a win or draw, or if they lose and Napoli are also defeated by Genk. A 5-4 reverse would also be sufficient for qualification as the Reds would top Salzburg on goal difference in their head-to-head record.
This is the third consecutive season that Liverpool have required a positive result on matchday six to advance to the knockout rounds. They won both of the previous two, at home to Napoli and Spartak Moscow respectively.
Salzburg are the fourth Austrian club Liverpool have played against. In their seven previous meetings with sides from the country, the Reds have won five, drawn one and lost one.
Mohamed Salah is one Champions League goal short of becoming only the second Liverpool player to net 20 times in Europe’s premier club competition, after Steven Gerrard (who scored 30).
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has scored three goals in his last three Champions League appearances.
Sadio Mane, formerly of Salzburg, has scored 30 goals for Liverpool so far in 2019. The forward is one of only 11 Reds players to achieve that feat in a calendar year.
Liverpool visit Salzburg in their final Champions League Group E game on Tuesday, with kick-off scheduled for 5.55pm GMT.
The match will be shown live on BT Sport in the UK.
Extended highlights will be available on LFCTV GO from 11pm GMT.
For Reds fans outside of the UK, global TV listings for the game can be found here.
However, their European crown could be under threat against Red Bull Salzburg on Tuesday and, if they do not secure a point in Austria, they will face the prospect of dropping into the Europa League.
There is an argument, should that happen, Klopp could then write off the competition and play a second-string side in order to concentrate on the Premier League.
When it was suggested to him he could field a team of youngsters in the Europa League, he added: “Ahh! In the last 32, or 64. Whatever? Yeah interesting.
“So, we are not part of these thoughts obviously. We are really ambitious in that tournament – no really.
“So yeah, actually we want to go until the end again – we have nothing better to do in the middle of May or whenever the final is played.
“That was cool (last season) and we want to do it again. Absolutely nothing else is on our mind.
“But we know (it is) step-by-step. Tomorrow is really difficult and we have to be ready for that.”
An injury scare to Dejan Lovren at Bournemouth on Saturday threatened to leave Klopp with just two fit central defenders in Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez, but the Croatia international has been passed fit and travelled with the squad.
With Joel Matip still out for at least another two weeks, having been sidelined since October 20, Klopp was asked whether he had considered bringing in reinforcements in January.
“But Lovren is not injured. It was a little bit of cramp, and it was the right moment to take him off, but it is cool, everybody is fine.
“We will not sign a centre-half because of injuries – that is the world outside who thinks we are short and we have to do it. But afterwards we would have six centre-halves and that wouldn’t make a lot of sense.
“And you need quality. You can’t have just somebody – I am somebody, I am tall, not quick but I look like a centre-half at least.”
The club are currently in the middle of a run of eight matches in 26 days in December.
Klopp’s side, top of the table domestically, need a point against Red Bull Salzburg in Austria to progress to the knockout stages in Europe on Tuesday but anything less will likely mean an unthinkable drop into the Europa League for the defending champions.
Also looming on the horizon is a week-long trip to Doha for the Club World Cup, which also comes in the same week as a Carabao Cup quarter-final at Aston Villa for which Klopp has had to assign to the youth team.
Asked whether his players could handle the physical demands he said: “No I don’t expect drops (in fitness and intensity) and if they happen I will prepare the solution then.
“Yes it is difficult but there is a job to do. We don’t ask for excuses, we know our schedule. We know where we have to go.
“We play in another in four days a very tough game (against Watford) and then we fly to Qatar.
“We don’t expect drops, we don’t accept drops; not just me the boys as well.
“We ask ourselves for the highest concentration. Then we will see what we get for it.
“We are a group which is in the most intense period of our lives and we will try to enjoy it.
“It is difficult, no doubt about that, but that is nothing that can stop us.”
One thing they may have to do is stop a free-scoring Salzburg side which has found the net 16 times already.
Only by Bayern Munich (21) and Tottenham (17) have scored more and they also have Erling Braut Haaland, son of former Leeds and Manchester City midfielder Alf-Inge, whose eight goals in the competition – bettered only by Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski’s 10 – have contributed to a tally of 28 in just 21 appearances.
The hosts have to win to progress and so they will attack Klopp’s side but the Reds boss believes their recent experience, having got to the last two finals, winning one, and the way they have qualified in the last two seasons from their final group match will stand them in good stead.
“It’s not that I expect us to go through, it’s just I expect us to play the best game we can play,” he said.
“Salzburg has to win against Liverpool; it’s possible because it’s football, I like that, but we are there. We are not a typical Champions League winner (of) last year or finalist of two years before.
“We are still ambitious like crazy, we will go for everything, we will run for our lives – that’s what we are, plus playing football.
“It’s not that we come here and think that we have to dominate Salzburg, we will fight in each challenge, 100 per cent.”
Georginio Wijnaldum is available to return for Liverpool in Tuesday’s Champions League tie at Salzburg.
A minor knock precluded Wijnaldum from playing in the Reds’ 3-0 victory at Bournemouth at the weekend, but Jürgen Klopp named the No.5 and Dejan Lovren - who was substituted in the first half at Vitality Stadium - in his 19-man travelling squad for the trip to Austria.
However, Adam Lallana, who also missed the win over the Cherries, has remained on Merseyside as he recovers from a minor knock of his own.
“Gini and Dejan are completely fine,” Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com.
“We had pretty much a free choice apart from Adam. Adam is not coming but will be back in training on Thursday. Under pressure we probably could have used him, but we didn’t want to make pressure. How I said, it’s a small thing.
“It would have been maybe a risk or not [to consider Lallana against Salzburg], I’m not sure, but we decided to leave him at Melwood and then he can train with the team from Thursday on.”
While the boss confirmed he has no fresh injuries to contend with for the crucial game at Red Bull Arena, Lallana is joined on the sidelines by Fabinho (ankle), Joel Matip (knee) and long-term absentee Nathaniel Clyne (knee).
A desire to introduce fresh legs amid a frantic fixture schedule has led Klopp to make five and seven changes to his starting line-up in Liverpool’s last two games, against Everton and Bournemouth respectively.
Salzburg, meanwhile, will be without Antoine Bernede (shin), Patrick Farkas (health problems) and Sekou Koita (muscle injury) for the encounter.
Possessing a chance to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League for the very first time in the club’s history, head coach Jesse Marsch detailed the need for his players to focus on the task at hand, rather than be drawn in by the occasion.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Monday, the American said: “I’ve met so many people over the past few days who have wished us all the best.
“We need to keep our heads clear and just give our all. We know that Liverpool have been in this position for the last two seasons, needing points from the last game. We will go into the game relaxed.”
Salzburg 5-1 Swarovski Tirol (December 7): Stankovic, Ramalho, Onguene, Wober, Kristensen, Ulmer, Camara, Okugawa, Minamino, Daka, Haaland.
Bournemouth 0-3 Liverpool (December 7): Alisson, Gomez, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Milner, Keita, Salah, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Firmino.