Peter Crouch and Michael Owen accused Liverpool of succumbing to nerves as they let a three-goal lead slip against an ‘incredible’ Salzburg at Anfield on Wednesday night.
Mohamed Salah stabbed home a fourth goal to settle a rollercoaster evening of Champions League football.
But the former Reds strikers were less than impressed by the European champions’ collapse after roaring into a 3-0 lead inside 36 minutes.
Peter Crouch admitted Liverpool’s 4-3 win over Salzburg was ‘absolutely mental’
Erling Haaland celebrates after bringing the Austrian side back to 3-3 at Anfield
Their manager Jesse Marsch pumps his fists after the game despite seeing his side lose
‘That was mental, absolutely mental’, said Crouch on BT Sport.
Liverpool were flying, playing some of the best attacking football I have seen from them this season and then the second half, I don’t even know where to begin. 3-3, you just couldn’t have seen it.
‘And then Salah pops up with the winner but an incredible match, highly entertaining but for the wrong reasons really for Liverpool in the end.
They got a bit nervous Liverpool, you have to say. Once the first goal went in, then the second.
‘You watched Fabinho was so calm on the ball, he was passing it out of play, they weren’t as intricate as they were in the first half, so it definitely affected them.
‘Obviously the fourth goal killed them off and then they controlled the game and managed it out but it was hairy for a while.’
Mohamed Salah settled the gripping encounter with his second goal of the night
The Egyptian star is embraced by Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino after his strike
Mane puts his fingers to his lips after netting the opening goal against his former team
Owen added: ‘I was worried about that, I must admit. I totally agree with Crouchy, I thought when it went 3-1 and then 3-2, I thought there were a couple of people that looked nervy.
‘Joe Gomez looked nervy, certainly Fabinho looked really nervy – he made about three mistakes within the space of five minutes and one led to the goal as well.
‘You think a team that had gone to the Champions League final last season would be very calm in the group stage but they shook them alright and Liverpool did well to arrest that slide and get back on top.’
But the pair had some complimentary words for Salzburg, who pulled back from a three-goal deficit to be level at 3-3 by the 60th minute through Hwang Hee-chan, Takumi Minamino and substitute Erling Haaland.
‘They were incredible’, Crouch purred. ‘I thought attacking wise, this was their first real test, but they came up showing very well.
Crouch and Michael Owen said that the normally composed Fabinho became nervous
England defender Joe Gomez was also picked out for criticism from the BT Sport pundits
‘It was a great attacking performance from them. Minamino was class, Hwang, some great individual performances. And Haaland coming off the bench to seal what he thought had been the draw but Salah popped up at the end.
‘They deserve credit for that, they had a real go. Their heads could have dropped at 3-0 but they kept up their attacking threat.
Salah and Sadio Mane, who opened the scoring in the ninth minute against his old side, were also full of praise for their opponents.
‘I think they had a good game and after they scored three goals it became difficult’, said Salah. ‘It was tough in the second half but we won and we’re happy about that.
Mane added: ‘That was really good honestly. After 3-0 up and 3-3, it became a really tough game. I think we deserved to win. You have to respect this game all the time.
‘To be honest, I knew this team because I had been there for 2 and a half years, they never give up and push all the time.’
Jurgen Klopp bemoaned his side’s decision-making, but believes they will have learn their lesson from the game.
‘It is better you learn the lesson in the game and sort it during the game but you have to talk about it after the game’, he said.
Jurgen Klopp was left to bemoan his side’s decision-making after a frantic evening
‘The momentum changed completely and you could see for us it was really difficult to get a foot in the game again. I am not angry or anything like that, I saw us playing very well and then we took the wrong decision obviously.
‘Half-time we tried to change but momentum is a really important thing. We didn’t get it until the scoresheet was finally equal. And then we got a really important and nice goal.
‘But the problem about this team is that they are not bothered about the result but the night. The mistake we made was we lost control of the game.’