There may have been a few nerves going in to the second leg of Liverpool’s Champions League play-off with Hoffenheim, but they were quickly settled as the Reds scored three-goals in just over 20-minutes with Emre Can’s double sandwiching a predatory strike from Mohamed Salah to give the hosts a commanding early lead.
“It was a big day for me and I think this was the first game that I scored two goals in my career… I think!,” said the German midfielder with a laugh. “But the most important thing is that we won the game and that I could help the team with the goals. The ball was very, very close [to going in for what would’ve been his third] but it was most important that we won the game,” added Can, knowing full well that he’ll have many more opportunities to do it on the big stage. “It would have been nice if I’d scored the hat-trick but maybe one day.”
Video courtesy of @MrBoywunder
The visitors would hit back through Mark Uth and Sandro Wagner before it was all over, but Roberto Firmino’s second half strike would effectively end this one as a contest just past the hour mark. In the right place at the right time and with just the right finish, Can put in a imperious performance in Liverpool’s midfield, not only bagging a brace, but bossing the game across the park — all the more reason why we should be redoubling our efforts to tie him down to a new deal.
“He is a great player, it was an excellent game,” enthused Reds boss Jurgen Klopp. “The first goal was great, it was a great assist from Sadio and also maybe a deflection at the near post, I’m not sure. But Emre was great and it was also useful that we kept the penalty box full of players,” explained the German manager. “Emre had actually been poorly for two days, so he started a bit of training yesterday. He was in training this morning and I asked him if he was fit,” added the Reds boss, revealing that Can almost didn’t play. “He said, ‘I can play, 100 per cent’ – and he did. For 60 minutes he was excellent in this game and he really deserved today’s standing ovation.”