Gakpo’s goal sends Liverpool, Brighton, and Villa into knockout stages

Liverpool won 4-0 against LASK, guaranteeing their spot in the Europa League knockout stages as a result of their successful performance. Luis Diaz and Cody Gakpo scored early goals, and a second-half penalty by Mohamed Salah- his 199th personal goal for the club- as well as an added-time strike by Gakpo, helped Liverpool secure the victory. Moreover, the team’s draw with Union Saint-Gilloise enabled them to avoid a round-of-32 play-off, a fact which pleased the manager, Juergen Klopp, and his press conference had been filled with references to the intense schedule in December. The club’s group stage record of 12 points further emphasizes their dominance in the tournament. Brighton and West Ham also eased into the knockout stages with respective victories, while Freiburg thrashed Olympiacos 5-0 and Villarreal beat Panathinakos 3-2. Also, in the Conference League, Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan kept a clean sheet for AZ Alkmaar in a 1-0 home win over Zrinjski, and Aston Villa won 2-1 at home to Legia Warsaw to top the group.