Liverpool moved closer towards the Champions League Last 16 with a hard-fought victory over Maribor at Anfield.
It was not quite the shellacking some had expected, but Liverpool nevertheless made sure to take another three points from Maribor, the weakest link in their group, and strengthen their hopes of qualifying for the knock-out stages of this season’s Champions League.
Anfield was made to wait.
Mohamed Salah broke the deadlock in the second half with a clever, flicked finish but James Milner had a penalty brilliantly saved by 39-year-old goalkeeper Jasmin Handanovic.
Midfielder Emre Can exchanged passes with Milner to curl in the second from the edge of the box and Daniel Sturridge drilled in a third late on.
Liverpool dominated the first half, holding 83% possession, but were unable to find the breakthrough – Roberto Firmino coming close with a stooping header which was tipped onto the crossbar by Handanovic.
Maribor’s best chance fell to Martin Milec, but his low drive was collected by Loris Karius, the only save he made in the match.
Jurgen Klopp’s side remain top and unbeaten in Group E with eight points from four games. They will now travel to Seville later this month top of Group E and a point clear of the Andalusians, knowing a win will take them through to the knock-out stages for the first time in nine long years.
Klopp will be concerned by a first-half injury to Dutchman Georginio Wijnaldum, who needs a scan on a swollen ankle sustained in an innocuous collision with a visiting player.
The midfielder often provides the shield to allow the more adventurous players to foray forward and Liverpool shipped four goals against Tottenham without him last month.
They were also held to a 1-1 draw at home to Burnley in the only other match he has missed this campaign.
This game, though, was not one where the Liverpool backline was tested by a team who have failed to win in their past 15 Champions League group games.