London, Sep 15 (EFE).- Liverpool squandered an early lead but rallied past AC Milan 3-2 in their opening Champions League group stage match Wednesday thanks to second-half goals by Mohamed Salah and Jordan Henderson.
In other action involving a Premier League club, 2020-2021 runner-up Manchester City started their bid for a first-ever Champions title by out-gunning Leipzig 6-3.
Host Liverpool looked like the far superior side early on at Anfield Stadium and were rewarded in just the ninth minute when a cross by Trent Alexander-Arnold ricocheted off center back Fikayo Tomori and past goalkeeper Mike Maignan.
It appeared a rout was in the making when an AC Milan hand ball allowed Salah to step up to the 12-yard mark, but a rare misfire by the Egyptian in the 14th minute – his first unconverted penalty in a Liverpool jersey in four years – gave the visitors new life.
Although AC Milan did virtually nothing offensively until late in the first half, they scored twice over a three-minute span to grab the lead at halftime.
First Ante Rebic knotted the match at 1-1 with a shot past Alisson in minute 42 and then Brahim Diaz finished off a counter-attack after Andy Robertson had cleared away one attempt at the goal mouth.
Liverpool had plenty to stew upon at halftime, but they came out with a sense of urgency after the break and tied the contest in the 48th minute when Salah made up for his botched penalty with a goal in the area.
Henderson then put the Reds ahead for good in the 69th minute with a potent half-volley just moments after a corner kick.
“We started incredibly well. We played in all the space we had to play, didn’t give them anything until we got punished in the last few minutes before half-time,” Liverpool head coach Jurgen Klopp said afterward. “We actually got a bit carried away by our football. We didn’t keep it simple anymore offensively and we weren’t organized defensively.”
With the win and Atletico Madrid’s 0-0 draw against Porto, Liverpool find themselves alone in first place in Group B.
Elsewhere, a defensively suspect Leipzig was no match for host Manchester City in Group A action at Etihad Stadium.
A totally unmarked Nathan Ake kicked off the scoring when he headed home a corner kick by Jack Grealish, Man City’s big off-season signing from Aston Villa, in the 16th minute.
The English winger later notched his first-ever Champions League goal in his debut match in that competition, sending a sublime, curling shot past Leipzig net minder Peter Gulasci to make the score 4-2 in the 56th minute.
Riyad Mahrez (via penalty), Joao Cancelo and Gabriel Jesus also put the ball in the net on a prolific night for Pep Guardiola’s men, who also scored on an own goal by Leipzig’s Nordi Mukiele.
Christopher Nkunku scored a hat-trick for the visitors in a losing effort.
Afterward, Grealish made it clear what the goal is for this season.
“The players are always talking about (the 2021 Champions League final defeat against Chelsea). They’re determined to go one better this year. It’s a good start for us. Hopefully we can go all the way this time.” EFE