Liverpool survived a scare in the opening game of their Europa League group stage campaign as they had to come from behind to beat LASK.
The Reds trailed early on in Austria and mounted a second-half comeback in order to spare their blushes.
Jurgen Klopp rotated many key players but kept some of his big names in the starting lineup, with his side eventually rising to the occasion and securing the three points.
How the game unfolded
LASK went close to taking a surprise lead when Ibrahima Konate allowed a low cross from Rene Renner to reach Robert Zulj, who saw his shot blocked behind by Virgil van Dijk.
And Liverpool fell behind from the resulting corner. Sascha Horvath’s delivery sailed straight to Florian Flecker on the edge of the 18-yard box, and he had the time to set himself and pick out the bottom corner of Caoimhin Kelleher’s net with a fierce strike.
The hosts nearly added a second when Konate wasn’t awarded a free-kick after tussling with winger Marin Ljubicic, with Van Dijk coming across to prevent the Croatian from pulling the trigger from close range.
At the other end, a delicious cross from Kostas Tsimikas just evaded the run of Ryan Gravenberch, with goalkeeper Tobias Lawal having to sprawl his legs to keep it from reaching another Liverpool body.
Liverpool should have levelled when Tsimikas’ corner was nodded across the box by Van Dijk and met by Darwin Nunez, whose header was clawed off the line by Lawal.
Nine minutes after half-time, Liverpool were awarded a penalty when Philipp Ziereis felled Luis Diaz after the Colombian got a shot away. Nunez stepped up and slotted home to equalise.
Kelleher had to be alert to keep out Ljubicic when a loose ball from a corner fell the forward’s way, stretching his left leg to deflect the ball behind.
Liverpool went straight back down the other end from that chance and took the lead for the first time. Nunez managed to hold the ball up and find Harvey Elliott, who in turn released Ryan Gravenberch into the channels. The Dutchman had time to find Diaz with a whipped low cross, and the winger made no mistake from close range.
Substitute Mohamed Salah was denied an immediate goal off the bench by a block from Felix Luckeneder on the line as Liverpool looked to kill the game completely.
With less than three minutes remaining, Salah did get on the scoresheet. Szoboszlai and Nunez managed to bundle the ball down the right flank away from chasing LASK defenders, with the Uruguayan teeing up Salah to advance into the box and poke a shot between the legs of Lawal.
GK: Caoimhin Kelleher – 7/10 – Made some fine saves when LASK countered and Liverpool were under the cosh.
RB: Stefan Bajcetic – 5/10 – Stepped into midfield at times, which suited him more because he did not look comfortable when in wide areas. That said, his low cross led to the foul on Diaz which gave Liverpool the penalty they needed.
CB: Ibrahima Konate – 4/10 – A clear weakness in the Liverpool backline. Too soft with many of his defensive actions on this occasion.
CB: Virgil van Dijk – 7/10 – Kept his composure at the back. Easily Liverpool’s most reliable and stubborn defender.
LB: Kostas Tsimikas – 5/10 – Squandered a couple of chances to start quick breakaways. Crossing was a little hit-and-miss but that’s at least understandable.
DM: Wataru Endo – 6/10 – Swept up well and buzzed about midfield when partnered by Bajcetic. A little limited in possession.
CM: Ryan Gravenberch – 7/10 – Sometimes guilty of holding onto the ball for too long and trying to do too much, but couldn’t fault his effort or desire to get hold of possession. Great assist for Diaz’s goal.
CM: Harvey Elliott – 6/10 – Struggled to stamp his authority on the game when it slowed down but excelled in speeding up the tempo and playing under a bit more pressure.
RW: Ben Doak – 5/10 – The talent and quality is clearly there, but the young winger was only able to show it in short bursts. Muscled out of the game at points.
CF: Darwin Nunez – 8/10 – Threw himself into aerial duels and made himself a nuisance one way or another. Grabbed a deserved goal from the penalty spot and then an assist for Salah.
LW: Luis Diaz – 8/10 – Diaz wasn’t at his electric best but LASK still feared him, ultimately leading to the all-important penalty. Scored with ease himself soon after.
SUB: Alexis Mac Allister (61′ for Endo) – 6/10
SUB: Dominik Szoboszlai (61′ for Doak) – 7/10
SUB: Joe Gomez (61′ for Bajcetic) – 6/10
SUB: Mohamed Salah (74′ for Gravenberch) – 8/10
SUB: Joel Matip (82′ for Konate) – N/A
Subs not used: Alisson (GK), Jaros (GK), Robertson, Quansah, Jones, Jota, Gakpo
Jurgen Klopp – 6/10 – Liverpool got the job done in the end and that’s the most important thing, though they needlessly complicated matters for themselves at times.
Player of the match – Darwin Nunez