Jurgen Klopp said the mood around Liverpool had been lifted after Mohamed Salah came off the bench to score the fastest hat-trick in Champions League history in a 7-1 demolition of Rangers at Ibrox on Wednesday to put one foot in the Champions League last 16.
Roberto Firmino scored twice, while Darwin Nunez and Harvey Elliott also struck in a confidence-boosting win for Klopp’s men as they moved to within a point of qualifying for the knockout stages.
At home though, the Reds are experiencing their worst start in 10 years, languishing in 10th place in the Premier League, 14 points off the top after winning just two of their first eight games. They had lost to league leaders Arsenal 3-2 on Sunday.
“It changes the mood definitely, and that’s good,” said Klopp, whose men meet second-placed Manchester City in the Premier League. “We all know who is coming on Sunday. That will be different, but it’s better to go in with the feeling from tonight.
“When we play to our potential, we’re a pretty good football team. That’s what we showed tonight.”
Liverpool had been forced to come from behind after Scott Arfield fired the Glasgow giants into an early lead. But Rangers are being schooled on their return to the Champions League for the first time in 12 years as they remain without a point and have conceded 16 goals in four games.
“The first half and the last half an hour was night and day,” said Rangers manager Giovanni Van Bronckhorst. “I cannot explain it.
“The performance was not the way we want to represent this club.”
Firmino’s double either side of half-time turned the game around before the Brazilian teed up Nunez to kill off the game as a contest.
Klopp had left Salah and Thiago Alcantara on the bench with one eye on Sunday’s clash against Manchester City in the Premier League.
But both were brought on for the final 22 minutes and Salah did not miss the chance to cash in against a beleaguered Rangers defence.
The Egyptian’s treble arrived in just six minutes to beat the previous record held by Bafetimbi Gomis in Lyon’s 7-1 win over Dinamo Zagreb in 2011.
Elliott then rounded off the scoring on a sobering night for a Rangers side that only months ago reached the Europa League final.
A draw in Amsterdam will suffice for Liverpool to reach the last 16 when they face Ajax in two weeks’ time. But Napoli remain out in front in Group A after a 4-2 win over Ajax sealed their place in the knockout stages.