Stand-in skipper Philippe Coutinho led Liverpool to the Champions League knockout stages as Group E winners with a 7-0 demolition of Spartak Moscow at Anfield on Wednesday.
Selected to help secure the three points that would sew up top spot, Coutinho’s hat-trick headlined a fearsome display of attacking speed and precision as the home side ran riot from the outset.
The Brazilian – wearing the armband as Jordan Henderson watched on from the bench – was on target twice in the opening 15 minutes to dispel any doubts over their command of a seeded berth in the last 16.
He first converted from the spot in the fourth minute and then capped off a classy attacking move for a second, before Roberto Firmino got in on the act by making it 3-0 in just the 18th minute.
Liverpool had coughed up a three-goal lead against Sevilla in their previous European outing but there was never any hint of that transpiring again as Sadio Mane bagged a brace either side of Coutinho’s third and Mohamed Salah added a seventh late on to cap a commanding four-goal second half.