Four things we learnt as Liverpool start Europa League campaign with a 3-1 comeback win at LASK
(Photo by Reinhard Eisenbauer - Getty Images)

Liverpool's return to the Europa League following a six-year hiatus was far from perfect, but they showed their resilience again to come from behind and beat LASK 3-1 in the Group E opener.

In northern Austria, Jurgen Klopp had to find the antidote to a slow start after the Reds went 1-0 down for the fourth time in five games after Florian Flecker smashed a low-driven shot beyond Caoimhe Kelleher in the first half.

The Liverpool manager found answers through reliable sources in the second half, with Darwin Nunez's penalty catalysing the comeback before Luis Diaz and substitute Mo Salah concluded the night. 

Here are four things we learnt from another uphill task completed by Liverpool.

  • Slow starts equal challenging games

All the talk this season around Liverpool has been about their slow starts to fixtures. After going behind first in three of their last four games before their trip to LASK, one could be forgiven for expecting Klopp to ensure the same doesn't happen for a fourth time.

However, such expectations were ultimately wrong. Whether it was spoken about or worked on the training ground is another thing, but Liverpool fell back into bad habits early into the night when Flecker opened the scoring within fourteen minutes. 

Of course, the feeling after ninety minutes were up was that matches aren't meant to be won early. It goes back to that old motherly statement that 'it's a marathon, not a sprint' and the idea from managers that 'football is a results business' and not, by definition, how you get to that outcome. 

But early stutters make for unnecessary obstacles for Liverpool and had they reversed their first-half curse to take the lead, their star-studded bench might not have needed to intervene and curb their rest period.

A lot of tournament football relies on game management. If Klopp needs to dial up the tempo late into fixtures regularly throughout the season, it could lead to a suffice of problems later in the year, with fitness issues and injuries mounting pressure. 

For now, victories will be counted as such. But Klopp will want to avoid uphill battles becoming inherent because Mo Salah, Dominik Szoboszlai, and Alexis Mac Allister's spots on the bench should've been kept warm. 

  • Fringe players fail to stake claim

As much as conceding early can be put down to repeated patterns and bad habits - for this game in particular, the players who were handed a rare start to show their worth could be held responsible for the lacklustre first period that initiated the need for reinforcements late on. 

Klopp made eleven changes to the starting lineup that faced Wolves last weekend. But only one player who doesn't start regularly for the Reds contributed to any of the three goals they scored against LASK.

Ryan Gravenberch's assist for Luis Diaz to put Liverpool in the lead was bookended by Diaz's work to hand the Reds a penalty Nunez scored before the Colombian also assisted Salah's late goal from the bench.

The concern will be that Liverpool still lack depth. A busy summer transfer window brought much-needed fresh impetus through the signings of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai, but departures were also in plentiful quantities. 

In midfield, the void was felt most palpably against LASK. It wasn't until the two aforementioned signings came on in the second period that there was structure or balance.

Wataru Endo is ostensibly struggling to fit into Liverpool's lineup, with the defensive qualities and leadership traits he was brought in for being nonexistent in his early cameos - while Harvey Elliott only improved when he could turn to Mac Allister and Szoboszlai's for assistance.

Liverpool fans won't want to admit it, but the decision to sell Fabinho, James Milner, and Jordan Henderson all in the same window looks more detrimental now than it already did at the time. 

The midfield trio knew the Liverpool way, were big characters in the dressing room, experienced in European football, and provided stability in games where changes were abundant.

For teams of a European profile such as Liverpool, a B team should be relied upon to come in and relieve pressure from those who start more often in the so-called bigger games.

Admittedly, Ben Doak can't be talked about in the same breath as he showed more encouraging signs of his talent after his speed, trickery, and directness caught the eye throughout. However, his ability is still raw, with his impact in the final third being rough around the edges.

But another area of the pitch where Liverpool struggled with change was in the fullback roles. Stefan Bajcetic looked out of sorts when he was asked to fill in for Trent Alexander-Arnold in an unfamiliar inverted wingback duty, while Kostas Tsimikas looked expectedly far from match sharpness. 

Perhaps making eleven changes in the first place was bold from Klopp - but against a team as lowly ranking as their Austrian hosts, the German manager would've expected more from the players looking to stake their claim. 

  • Gravenberch: A diamond in the rough

To caveat the problems identified in midfield, deadline-day signing Ryan Gravenberch shone on his debut. The Dutch midfielder showed that he needn't rely on first-team players around him to put in a good shift.

A solid first start for the Reds saw the former Bayern man create the most chances, draw the most fouls, and notch the most recoveries -  crowning the display with a brilliantly worked assist for Diaz to put Liverpool into the lead. 

After the match, he revealed that Klopp told him to "Show yourself, show the Ryan you are!" - and that encouragement was certainly relayed onto the pitch.

It's often too early to say whether a player will fit the system and be a hit. However, Gravenberch has already shown signs of being an archetypal Klopp player.

He is energetic, versatile, and markedly press-resistant. The Dutchman can play his way out of tight situations, and he operates as the perfect knot between defence, midfield, and attack.  

Liverpool can take great confidence from his performance against LASK, which harked back to his glorified wonderkid exploits for Ajax before Bayern Munich halted his progress.

At 21 years old, Gravenberch can recoup that stardust he found in his home country under a head coach who knows how to get the best out of his players.

  • Mo Salah and record-equalling goals, was there ever any doubt?

When Klopp wanted to ensure he held onto his 50th win in European competition at Liverpool's helm, he looked to the bench and took inspiration from the notion that attack is the best form of defence. 

Arguably, he didn't envision a scenario where he needed to bring Mo Salah into the picture in Austria, with his position on the bench a deliberate plan to reserve energy for West Ham at the weekend.

But when Salah was brought on, there was never any doubt that the Egyptian international wouldn't make a difference - doing so by scoring another goal to add to his tally. 

The goal, which was intricately cultivated on the right wing before Salah chopped inside and slotted the ball beneath goalkeeper Tobias Lawal, was the Egyptian's 42nd in Europe for the Reds.

It now means that Salah ties with Thierry Henry for the most goals scored by an English club's player in European competition, and the general feeling around the club is that it won't be his last. 

His involvement, whether from the bench or when given a starting berth, will be paramount to Liverpool's chances of lifting the Europa League - the only competition Klopp has managed the Reds in without winning it.