Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah answered his critics in spectacular fashion with a stunning hat-trick against Rangers on Wednesday evening. Having emerged from the bench, his quickfire trio of goals took just over six minutes, making it the fastest in Champions League history.
Liverpool fans were given a surprise before kick-off as neither Salah nor Diogo Jota made the starting XI. This season, the Egyptian has struggled for the kind of form that has made him a legend on Merseyside.
The Champions League clash was closely contested in the first half as Scott Arfield gave Rangers the lead. Roberto Firmino equalised before the break and grabbed his second early in the second half, but Salah’s cameo ultimately stole the show.
Three cool finishes in the 75th, 80th and 81st minute made it the fastest hat-trick in Champions League history, two minutes faster than Batefimbi Gomis managed for Lyon in 2011.
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Blackburn Rovers hero Mike Newell, former Manchester City star Raheem Sterling and ex-Real Madrid ace Cristiano Ronaldo are also among the players to have been blown away by Salah’s rapid treble.
Darwin Nunez and Harvey Elliott were also on the scoresheet for Liverpool on Wednesday as they consigned Rangers to their heaviest-ever Champions League defeat. Elliott, meanwhile, notched his first-ever goal in the competition.
The handsome victory was much needed for Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, who appeared to be feeling the pressure during a tense press conference this week. He watched on dumbfounded when Arfield netted the home side’s opener on Wednesday but his half-time team talk did the trick as the Reds completed a resounding turnaround after the break.
Napoli continued their solid form in Champions League Group A with a 4-2 win over Ajax earlier on Wednesday evening but Liverpool now have a comfortable six-point buffer in second place. Former Celtic star Virgil van Dijk, who has struggled for form this campaign, heaped praise on his team-mates after the final whistle.
“It was great,” the Dutchman told BT Sport. “Obviously, what we expected, happened. The [Rangers] fans tried to give everything and we had to be very composed to get on the ball and play with composure. In the first half, we could have done it better but in the second we did it much better.
“This was my first time here [at Ibrox] and it was a great result. Rangers had to come so the spaces were always going to be there and our strikers showed the quality that we need for the rest of the season. From the outside point of view, everyone expected us to win here but we take it one game at a time.”