Liverpool eased the pressure on Jurgen Klopp as Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah inspired a 7-0 thrashing of Maribor in the Champions League on Tuesday.
After drawing their first two European fixtures and spluttering in the Premier League, Liverpool arrived in Slovenia with critics questioning Klopp’s signings and tactics.
But, for once, Klopp’s team showed a ruthless touch in the opposition penalty area to demolish woeful Maribor.
Firmino opened the scoring and Philippe Coutinho increased Liverpool’s lead before Salah’s brace put the Reds four up by half-time at Stadion Ljudski Vrt.
Firmino netted again after the break, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Trent Alexander-Arnold also on the scoresheet as Liverpool’s goal blitz moved them into first place in Group E with three matches left.
After only one victory in their last eight games in all competitions, this was a welcome tonic for Klopp and company as they ended a three-match winless run.
Now Klopp must hope the dominant display marks a much-needed change in his side’s fortunes.
Saturday’s goalless draw against Manchester United had continued Liverpool’s frustrating recent trend of failing to kill off their opponents despite controlling possession.
Liverpool’s profligacy sparked criticism of Klopp’s failure to buy a top-class striker and, irritated by questions about his trophyless two-year reign, he sarcastically labelled himself a “charismatic, funny loser” earlier this week.
Aware the heat was being turned up, Klopp will be relieved Liverpool looked more potent, although it helped that Maribor were totally out of their depth.
Klopp’s side quickly punished Maribor’s naive defending to take a fourth minute lead.
Salah was left in acres of space down the right edge of the Maribor penalty area and the Egypt winger’s low cross into the six yard box teed up Firmino to tap-in his fifth goal of the season.