Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain marked his return to the Champions League stage with two superb goals as Liverpool claimed their first group stage win on the road for two years with a 4-1 triumph at Belgian club Racing Genk on Wednesday.
It was not as comfortable as the scoreline suggests but two sublime finishes by Oxlade-Chamberlain, playing his first game in the competition since suffering a serious knee injury in the semi-final against Roma 18 months ago, and one each from Sadio Mane and Mo Salah sealed the points.
Genk got a late consolation through Stephen Odey.
Victory lifted Liverpool to six points, one behind Group E leaders Napoli, although the evening began on a sour note when a banner depicting striker Divock Origi was removed from the away end with Liverpool condemning it as racist.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s fizzing low shot gave Liverpool the lead after two minutes but Genk were not about to roll over.
They had several golden opportunities to equalise and thought they had done so with Mbwana Samatta’s bullet header after 26 minutes but his effort was ruled marginally offside.
Genk were still in the hunt but Oxlade-Chamberlain gave Liverpool breathing space in the 57th minute with a sensational improvised finish from outside the area.
Mane gave the scoreline a rather flattering look when he finished off a superb move after 77 minutes and Salah rubbed salt into the hosts’ wounds with a classy fourth as Genk finally began to run out of steam.
Elsewhere, Lionel Messi became the first player to score in 15 consecutive Champions League seasons as Barcelona claimed a narrow 2-1 win at Slavia Prague.
Wednesday’s Champions League results:
Red Bull Salzburg 2
Inter Milan 2
B. Dortmund 0
Slavia Prague 1
RB Leipzig 2
Zenit St Petersburg 1