Liverpool get their Europa League campaign underway on Thursday evening with a trip to Austria to take on LASK Linz, and they’ll be hoping to maintain a strong track record against clubs from the central European country.
The Reds have faced Austrian opposition on eight previous occasions in Europe, with six wins, one draw and just one defeat to their name from those meetings.
History suggests that anyone looking at sportsbooks by Mightytips would duly lean towards Jurgen Klopp’s side to return to Merseyside with a positive result, not to mention that LFC are among the favourites to win the trophy outright in Dublin next May.
Ahead of Thursday’s clash at the Raiffeisen Arena, in which Liverpool will give a first outing to this season’s purple third kit, we look at the club’s previous clashes against teams from Austria.
Austria Vienna (1984/85 European Cup quarter-finals)
Liverpool were still in the running for a fifth European Cup triumph in nine years when they met the Viennese outfit in the 1985 quarter-finals, with the Reds on the road for the first leg. Joe Fagan’s team had to dig deep just to come away with a draw – Steve Nicol struck a late equaliser to cancel out Toni Polster’s goal midway through the first half.
The second leg at Anfield was much more straightforward. Paul Walsh opened the scoring on 16 minutes, with Nicol doubling the lead shortly before half-time. An Erich Obermayer own goal just after the interval killed the tie as a contest and Walsh netted his second of the night in the 55th minute, rendering Herbert Prohaska’s subsequent goal a mere footnote.
FC Swarovski Tirol (1991/92 UEFA Cup last 16)
When Liverpool returned to European competition after a six-season absence in 1991, they met Austrian opposition once more in the last 16 of the UEFA Cup. The first leg took Graeme Souness’ side to the Tivoli Stadion, where a 2-0 win was secured thanks to a double from Dean Saunders.
The Reds made light work of the second leg at Anfield, breezing to a 4-0 victory in the run-up to Christmas. Tirol would’ve been sick of the sight of Saunders by the time they flew home, with the Welshman helping himself to a hat-trick against them. Barry Venison completed the scoring with 10 minutes remaining.
Graz AK (2004/05 Champions League play-off round)
Little did we know it at the time, but the road to glory in Istanbul in May 2005 began nine months earlier in the Champions League play-off round away to Graz AK. Two goals from Steven Gerrard at the Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadion clinched victory in Rafael Benitez’s first competitive game in charge of Liverpool. It was also the final time that Michael Owen pulled on an LFC kit – he was an unused substitute on the night and completed a transfer to Real Madrid three days later.
The Reds ultimately progressed to the group stage, but not without a scare in the second leg. A long-range strike from Mario Tokic on 54 minutes put Graz ahead at Anfield and halved the deficit in the tie. They came away with victory on the night but were defeated on aggregate; Liverpool didn’t look back from that close shave with catastrophe.
Red Bull Salzburg (2019/20 Champions League group stage)
Liverpool’s flawless start to the Premier League in 2019/20 (which would ultimately deliver the title) wasn’t mirrored in the Champions League, with the holders losing 2-0 to Napoli in their opening group game.
Jurgen Klopp’s men seemed to be putting that right when they raced into a 3-0 lead at home to Salzburg in their next match, the goals coming from Sadio Mane, Andy Robertson and Mo Salah. However, the Austrian side fought back to draw level by the hour mark, with all three of their goals scored by future Premier League players Hwang Hee-chan, Takumi Minamino and a certain Erling Haaland. Salah eventually settled a madcap encounter in the 69th minute (BBC Sport).
The Reds travelled to Austria two months later for the final game in the group still needing a result to ensure progression to the knockout stages. Two goals in 60 seconds just before the hour settled the issue, with Naby Keita breaking the deadlock and Salah scoring from an impossible angle to see his team through to the last 16 with comfort.