Mohamed Salah scored a six-minute hat-trick after coming off the bench but Roberto Firmino deserves equally as much attention and praise after Liverpool hammered Rangers 7-1 in Glasgow on Wednesday night. Jurgen Klopp is being proven perfectly right by Firmino after his vital brace in the Reds’ victory, with the Brazil international in brilliant form. Liverpool inflicted Rangers’ heaviest ever European defeat at Ibrox to the delight of the away fans.
It was Firmino’s header from a first-half corner that brought Liverpool level and crucially took some bite out of the Ibrox atmosphere. He was on hand at the near post to flick Kostas Tsimikas’ corner in seven minutes after Rangers had taken the lead through Scott Arfield, the BT Sport camera visibly bouncing up and down as the home fans celebrated.
And it was then Firmino’s finish through the legs of Allan McGregor, after Joe Gomez’s pinpoint cross, that made it 2-1. That moved him on to eight goals this season, from just seven starts. Manchester City’s Erling Haaland (20) and Tottenham’s Harry Kane (nine) are the only Premier League players who have more goals across all competitions so far.
He wasn’t done there, adding a stylish assist for Darwin Nunez to make it 3-1 on 66 minutes. Then Salah came on to pile on the misery for the Scottish giants with a rapid treble, before Harvey Elliott added a late seventh.
But it was Firmino who laid the foundations before then. How vital his contributions have been this term. He scored the equaliser in the 2-1 win over Newcastle and assisted Liverpool’s first three goals in the 9-0 destruction of Bournemouth before scoring the fourth and seventh.
Against Brighton, he made it 2-1 and then 2-2 in an eventual 3-3 draw. And of course here, he drew Liverpool level before putting them in front and helping add a third. He was taken off on 72 minutes to huge applause from the travelling supporters.
He’s now directly played a part in 12 goals. Last season, he contributed to 16 goals in 35 matches across the season as he started just 12 matches in the league and in Europe. Ex-Liverpool winger Steve McManaman noted on BT Sport’s commentary: “There were times last year you’d say he was number five of the forwards. He’s number one at the moment.”
Certainly there were question marks over his future in the summer. But Klopp, responding to links to Juventus, was emphatic on the Brazilian’s future. He said: “Bobby is the heart and soul of this team. That’s why I’m happy he has trained with us so far.
“For me there’s no doubt about his quality. He’s essential to us.” The South American forward’s efforts so far have shown Klopp perfectly correct to keep him in spite of the fact he can leave for free this coming summer.
Not much has gone right for the German this season, but keeping Firmino is certainly one call he’s yielding the rewards from. Liverpool need Firmino to maintain this kind of form until the World Cup break as they look to find some consistency, especially with high-flying Manchester City the visitors to Anfield on Sunday.
The Reds will need to be at their absolute best, which they have rarely been this season, to snatch any kind of result against Haaland and co. Firmino has only ever contributed to more goals in his career against Arsenal, Watford and Bournemouth. He’ll hope to improve his record against the Citizens this weekend.