Salah smashes Champions League record
Mohamed Salah broke the record for the quickest-ever hat-trick in the Champions League as the Liverpool striker starred in his team’s 7-1 demolition of Glasgow Rangers on Wednesday night.
The Egyptian came off the bench in the 68th minute with his team already 3-1 in front after the Reds rode out a shaky start amid an intense atmosphere at Ibrox.
Salah proceeded to strike in the 75th, 80th, and 81st minutes of the match – firing a treble in just six minutes and 12 seconds.
The salvo was more rapid than the previous record for the fastest-ever Champions League hat-trick, which had belonged to former Lyon forward Bafetimbi Gomis for his eight-minute treble against Dinamo Zagreb in 2011.
The prolific Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski have both managed 11-minute hat-tricks in the Champions League – as has Raheem Sterling – although none were as quick on the draw as the Egyptian.
The 7-1 rout for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool team was a much-needed confidence boost after an unimpressive start to the Premier League season has left them languishing tenth in the table.
The Anfield club also made an inauspicious start to their Champions League Group A campaign with a 4-1 opening defeat at Napoli, but have bounced back with a win against Ajax and back-to-back successes against Rangers.
After falling behind to Scott Arfield in the 17th minute at a raucous Ibrox, Liverpool struck back spectacularly with a double from Roberto Firmino and goals from Darwin Nunez and Harvey Elliott, as well as Salah’s record haul.
The result leaves Liverpool in prime position to qualify from the group as last season’s Champions League finalists lie second behind Napoli on nine points from four games, while Ajax follow in third on three points and Rangers are rock bottom without a point from their four matches.
Group leaders Napoli made it a perfect four wins from four as they beat Ajax 4-2 at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona on Wednesday night, securing early passage into the knockout stages.
The Italians cemented their status as arguably the most exciting team to watch on the continent at present, with former Rubin Kazan star Khvicha Kvaratskhelia outstanding again as he provided an assist before netting a penalty.
Elsewhere in Europe, Barcelona’s hopes of reaching the knockout stages are hanging by a thread after they drew 3-3 at Camp Nou with Inter Milan in Group C.
The visitors had seemed on course for all three points when Robin Gosens put them 3-2 ahead in the 89th minute, before Polish hitman Robert Lewandowski bailed out Barca with a goal two minutes into added time – his second of the match.
German giants Bayern Munich secured their spot in the knockout stages with a 4-2 win away at Viktoria Plzen in the Czech Republic – making Bayern the first team ever to win 11 Champions League group-stage matches in a row.
Julian Nagelsmann’s men top Group C on 12 points, with Inter five points behind and Xavi’s Barcelona team on four points from their four matches. Plzen remain pointless and bottom of the pile.
With the visit of Bayern to Camp Nou and a trip to Plzen to come, Barca are staring at a drop into the Europa League knockout stages for the second straight season, should they finish third in the group.
Also on Wednesday night, Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur team earned a 3-2 win over German visitors Eintracht Frankfurt in London in Group D, while Marseille secured a 2-0 win away at Sporting Lisbon, who played the last 30 minutes of the match with nine men.
Those results leave the group looking tight, with Spurs top on seven points, followed by Sporting and Marseille both on six, and Eintracht trailing on four points.
In Group B, Club Brugge continued to surprise as they held Atletico Madrid to a 0-0 draw in Spain, meaning the Belgians have qualified for the Champions League knockout stages for the first time in their history.
Porto hammered Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 in Germany in the same group, leaving a tight battle for the second qualifying spot.
Brugge are unbeaten on 10 points from four games, while Porto stand second on six points, Atletico are in third on four, and Leverkusen are bottom with three.