This marked Liverpool’s return to the Europa League, with their last campaign occurring in the 2015-16 season, where they ended as runners-up with a 3-1 defeat to Sevilla in the final. In this match, Liverpool appeared unsettled during the first half against the determined hosts, who were participating in the Europa League group stage for the third time.
LASK Linz, currently in the third position in the 2022-23 Austrian Bundesliga, took an unexpected lead in the 14th minute through a spectacular goal by winger Florian Flecker. He met with a corner and fired it past Liverpool’s goalkeeper, Caoimhin Kelleher.
Liverpool had a promising opportunity to level the score when Darwin Nunez attempted a close-range header later in the first half. However, the alert goalkeeper Tobias Lawal denied their efforts.
The turning point came in the second half when Nunez successfully converted a penalty after Liverpool were awarded the spot-kick when Luis Diaz was fouled inside the box.
Diaz then put Liverpool in front in the 63rd minute with a close-range goal, capitalizing on a brilliant cross into the middle of the box by Ryan Gravenberch. Substitute Mohamed Salah sealed the victory with a low strike inside the far post just two minutes before the final whistle.
In another Group E matchup, last season’s quarter-finalists Union Saint-Gilloise managed to salvage a 1-1 draw at home against Toulouse.
Bayer Leverkusen dominated their home game, scoring two goals within the first 16 minutes to defeat Swedish champions Hacken 4-0. Meanwhile, the 2022-23 runners-up, AS Roma, secured a 2-1 win against Moldova’s Sheriff Tiraspol, with a goal by Romelu Lukaku.
Panathinaikos, who finished second in the Greek Super League last season, caused an upset by defeating the 2020-21 champions Villarreal 2-0.
Stade Rennais midfielder Ludovic Blas opened the scoring in the first minute, helping his team secure a comfortable 3-0 victory over the visiting Israeli champions, Maccabi Haifa.
(With Reuters inputs)