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Champions League

Champions League: Liverpool crush Hoffenheim dreams

A first-half flurry from Liverpool blew Hoffenheim away and made sure the Reds reached the Champions League group stage. Hoffenheim will have to content themselves with the Europa League.

Liverpool 4-2 Hoffenheim (6-3 on aggregate)

Can 10', 21', Salah 18', Firmino 63'; Uth 28', Wagner 79'

Liverpool produced one of their famous European nights at Anfield to destroy Hoffenheim’s hopes of a first Champions League group stage berth.

Ironically it was the German connection which did for the visitors in their first appearance in European competition, Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool oozing class but always leaving gaps at the back to give the visitors a cruel sense of false hope.

Germany international Emre Can scored twice in a whirlwind first half as a free-flowing Liverpool interchanged positions at will and often left Hoffenheim chasing shadows. Former Hoffenheim forward Roberto Firmino completed the rout in a less breathless second period.

The Reds power into the money-spinning group stages, with the draw on Thursday, while Julian Nagelsmann’s side will enter the draw for the Europa League, which takes place on Friday.  

The hosts played the same XI as the first leg and looked in the mood from the off, creating chance after chance against a shell-shocked Hoffenheim defence.

Can got his first after Sadio Mane broke forward and laid the ball off for the midfielder on the overlap. Can’s effort was deflected off Kevin Vogt and went in at the near post.

Klopp and a noisy Anfield were thrilled by the start but it was about to get much, much better.

Another vibrant attack led to Georginio Wijnaldum striking the post from inside the box and Mo Salah had the easiest of finishes on the rebound and was clearly onside.

Best goal of the night

Wave after wave of forays forward continued, although that left space for the away side and Serge Gnabry could twice have done better.

But soon it was 3-0 and Can was on the scoresheet again for perhaps the best goal of the night. Liverpool forwards swarmed everywhere again and Firmino on the left played a delightful chipped cross to Can at the far post and the former Leverkusen man could not miss – despite popping up on the right when he was earlier playing left midfield.

UEFA Champions League - Play-Off Liverpool v TSG 1899 Hoffenheim Uth (picture-alliance/empics/N. french)

Mark Uth gives Hoffenheim a glimmer of hope

Hoffenheim coach Nagelsmann may still only be 30 but he again showed maturity beyond his years by opting for a substitution after just over 20 minutes, throwing on striker Mark Uth for the star-struck Havard Nordtveit.

It worked a treat as Uth netted with a superb angled drive just before the half hour to give Hoffeheim the faintest slither of hope.

There could easily have been more goals for both sides as the thrilling opening period sped on.

The second half was never going to be as frenetic as the first but the encounter would not have been complete without a goal for Firmino against his former side.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson had too much time to set up the Brazilian for a first-time finish.

Sandro Wagner pulled another back for Hoffenheim with 11 minutes to go but that still meant they needed three goals. Nevertheless Liverpool’s continued defensive frailty will remain a worry for Klopp going forward in this competition.

Hoffenheim, relegation candidates at the start of last term, produced a miracle in finishing fourth in the Bundesliga and even reaching this stage.  

They can be proud of scoring three goals over two legs against the five-times European champions. But now they know what it is like against the big boys and who knows how long it might be until Hoffenheim see Champions League football again?

Check out our live blog from during the game below.

The Champions League group stage draw is Thursday at 1800 CET in Monaco.

Celtic, Maribor, Olympiakos, Napoli, Sevilla, Qarabag, Sporting, APOEL Nicosia and CSKA Moscow will join Liverpool from the playoffs.

Hoffenheim will have to wait for the Europa League draw on Friday at 1300 CET.

FULLTIME: 4-2

The stat remains. No German team has ever beaten Liverpool at Anfield.

Champions League - Playoffs - Liverpool vs. TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (Reuters/P. Noble)

Firmino completes the rout

90+ Into stoppage time

Hoffenheim still need three goals and there is 10 minutes left. But Anfield saw similar against Dortmund...?

79 - GOAL: Wagner. Too late?

Played in by Jordan Henderson and a first touch finish from the old Hoffenheim forward. Very much the German connection for Liverpool tonight, how ironic for TSG

63 - GOAL: Firmino.

59 - Wijnaldum again with a good chance. This could have been double figures.

57 - Gnabry off Szalai on. Surprised by that, Gnabry has been lively and you'd think you need as many attackers as possible on the field. But balance is balance I guess.

55 - Wijnaldum should have scored but decent save by Baumann. Bizarrely a goal kick was given

50 - Quite a dull start to the second half considering the first half fireworks ;)

Second half underway

UEFA Champions League - Play-Off Liverpool v TSG 1899 Hoffenheim Uth (picture-alliance/empics/N. french)

Mark Uth gives Hoffenheim a glimmer of hope

HALFTIME:  What an amazing first half that was. Such free flowing football from Liverpool. Every player seems to be interchangeable. Who needs Coutinho? But they do leave gaps at the back as Uth showed. But too late for Hoffenheim?

44 - Uth in the action again and Mignolet tips the ball round the post

41 - Can so close to a hat-trick with a curling effort going just wide 

35 - Firmino misses glorious chance and then Mane fires follow-up straight at the keeper. 

Champions League - Playoffs - Liverpool vs TSG 1899 Hoffenheim Can (Reuters/C. Recine)

Emre Can's second of the game

This game is crazy. But top finish from Uth and how brave from Julian Nagelsmann to throw him on before the half hour mark

28 - GOAL: Mark Uth pulls one back having only just come on upfront

Liverpool have absolutely crushed Hoffenheim here in the first 20 minutes. Another swift attack, Firmino crosses for Can to score easily at the far post. 

21 - GOAL CAN 3-0 LIVERPOOL!!!

Wijnaldum effort came back off the post and Salah had easy finish

18 - GOAL 2-0 LIVERPOOL: SALAH THIS TIME

Mane broke forward and laid the ball off for Can on the overlap. His effort was deflected and went in at the near post. Hoffenheim need a miracle at Anfield...

10 - GOAL! EMRE CAN 1-0 LIVERPOOL

7 -Gnabry misses the target from a fantastic position but was he offside?

3 - Alexander-Arnold tries to repeat the trick from the first leg but his free kick is deflected into the air and Salah heads over

KICKOFF!

- The Champions League music has to rival YNWA these days for putting hairs up on the back of your neck, doesn't it?

- You'll Never Walk Alone done and dusted. The Kop packed with banners and flags. The players are out. Big ask for Hoffenheim. Remember 2-0 puts them through or 2-1 brings extra-time. 

- 10 minutes until kickoff and the players are out warming up. Almost time for You'll Never Walk Alone. And sorry Dortmund fans, it does sound better at Anfield. It was sung by Liverpool band Gerry and the Pacemakers. It is Liverpool's song really.

- Few better places in football to watch a Champions League clash. Such history and such a special atmosphere at Anfield. Can Hoffenheim overcome the nerves? We will find out shortly. The new tunnel in Anfield's rebuilt main stand has lost some of its aura but they make sure you remember they have won it five times...

- The visitors meanwhile make two changes compared to the first leg. Nordtveit and Geiger come in for Rupp and Bicakcic

Hoffenheim Team: Baumann, Kaderabek, Nordtveit, Demirbay, Wagner, Zuber, Hübner, Vogt, Kramaric, Gnabry, Geiger 

- The Liverpool team is out and it is the same as the first leg, as expected. Jürgen Klopp made changes in the weekend win over Crystal Palace to freshen things up, even this early in the campaign.

Liverpool Team: Mignolet; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Matip, Moreno; Henderson, Can Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Hello and welcome to our live blog for the Champions League playoff second leg between Liverpool and Hoffenheim at Anfield. We'll have all the latest plus the best photos and tweets. Hit refresh for the latest.

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