Sadio Mane dictated Liverpool's rampant attack against Hoffenheim - here's how
Liverpool’s display against Hoffenheim was one of pure attacking beauty at times, and Sadio Mane was at the heart of everything that Liverpool did going forward.
Excelling in his new role on the left flank, Mane’s pace was crucial to his side’s counter attacks down the left and played a huge part in the team’s rampant start as they blew the Germans away in the first 20 minutes with their powerful attacking play.
From the very first minutes his movement was causing problems as he broke free and could only fire a one on one chance straight at goalkeeper Oliver Baumann. He didn’t make that mistake again though and his neat footwork created Liverpool’s opening goal.
Emre Can’s strike immediately made a recovery very difficult for Hoffenheim but it was all about the neat work by Mane, who cut inside, leaving a gap for Can to run into on the left, before unexpectedly firing a backheeled pass straight into his path to rifle into the net.
Again, it was another fine backheel which played in Roberto Firmino to cross to Can to score his second and Liverpool’s third and put the tie to bed after the Senegal international had burst forward. A fine team move included Mane’s fine run being picked up by Georgino Wijnaldum before setting up the Brazilian.
Mane has stepped into the role occupied by Philippe Coutinho last season and has immediately made a claim to be the side’s key player in his absence. Despite having missed much of pre-season as he overcame a knee problem picked up in the last Merseyside derby, he seems in peak condition already.
His pace, footwork and movement is enough to cause problems at any level and he now looks set to show that at the very highest level by securing his side a place in the group stages of Europe’s elite competition, the Champions League.