Liverpool suffer costly blow in Sparta Prague thrashing as Darwin Nunez shows true colours | Football | Sport

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Liverpool suffer costly blow in Sparta Prague thrashing as Darwin Nunez shows true colours | Football | Sport

Liverpool netted five times away at Sparta Prague to put themselves within sight of the Europa League quarter-finals ahead of next week’s last-16 second leg. Two goals from Darwin Nunez, and one each from Alexis Mac Allister, Luis Diaz and Dominik Szoboszlai, sealed a handsome 5-1 win for the Reds, but there are one or two points of concern ahead of Sunday’s meeting with Manchester City. Here, Express Sport takes you through four key talking points from the contest…

Liverpool suffer costly blow

Jurgen Klopp will need all hands on deck when his side host City on Sunday, in a game which could have a dramatic impact on the Premier League title race. But two new concerns sprung up for the Reds in defence during their trip to the Czech capital.

Starting centre-back Ibrahima Konate was forced off injured during the second half when it became apparent he couldn’t sprint. His absence would be painfully felt if he doesn’t make it back in time for the weekend. Meanwhile, Joe Gomez was replaced by Conor Bradley at half-time, sparking concerns over another potential injury blow.

Nunez shows true colours

Liverpool’s first goal against Sparta Prague came from the spot. Mac Allister won it and took it, sending Peter Vindahl Jensen the wrong way as Nunez was brutally taken off penalty duties following his miss against Chelsea in January.

The Uruguayan was unfazed by the snub and provided an emphatic response, with two eye-catching goals to put Liverpool in control. His first was a speculative right-footed effort from distance which flummoxed the goalkeeper, and his second was a cracking finish, smashing into the bottom-left-hand corner on the half-volley.

Key trio rested

Although Klopp fielded a strong team in Thursday’s first leg, he made sure to keep three vital players largely under wraps ahead of this weekend’s all-important Premier League meeting. Virgil van Dijk, Mohamed Salah and Szoboszlai all began the match on the bench.

Van Dijk was introduced for the injured Konate minutes into the second half, the night’s final scorer Szoboszlai came on moments later, and Salah was given the final 20 minutes, during which he saw a goal disallowed. All three players should therefore be relatively fresh and suitably loosened up for the City game.

Carabao kids eye opportunity

With Liverpool comfortably ahead going into the second leg next week, the youngsters who starred in the Carabao Cup final win over Chelsea may fancy their chances of getting another chance on the big stage.

Bobby Clark looks likely to continue his run in the senior side, and while Jayden Danns and James McConnell missed out on Thursday, they are also in line to feature in the reverse fixture on Merseyside.

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