Liverpool won 2-0 in Champions League last-16 first leg
‘Ali will sleep pretty well on the plane on the way home’
Jürgen Klopp said Liverpool’s refusal to lose belief had been rewarded as they took a significant step towards the Champions League quarter-finals with a 2-0 away win over RB Leipzig. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané capitalised on poor defensive mistakes by last season’s semi-finalists to give Liverpool a commanding first-leg advantage in the rearranged tie in Budapest.
Victory ended a run of three successive defeats for the Premier League champions, and Klopp praised the mentality of his players for keeping faith in their style despite the recent downturn.
The Liverpool manager said: “We are not children anymore. We don’t think one win and everything is fine. It was more important for me that again, and I mean again, we played good football. We did that a lot in the last few weeks but nobody is really happy with the results.
“That’s clear, but the football we played – dominating (Manchester) City in a way that doesn’t happen often, the same against Leicester, we should not forget that – but tonight the result was with us. We kept a clean sheet, we scored two goals, we forced the opponent to make the mistakes that we made pretty much in the last few weeks, worked really hard, top individual performances but especially how we worked to put all that stuff together.
“If you watch Leipzig more often you would know their game can look completely different to tonight. They cause you problems. We saw the line-up and had no idea what system they would play. They can play six systems. They had chances, of course, that is normal, but the majority of the game we had good control and that’s very important. But it doesn’t happen a lot against Leipzig.”
Klopp was delighted with a return to form by goalkeeper Alisson, who made a fine save from Christopher Nkunku early in the second half with the game goalless. “He had big moments in the Leicester game too, he made brilliant saves in that game, but of course it will help,” he said. “A clean sheet and Ali will sleep pretty well on the plane on the way home. Ali has helped us a lot.”
Klopp also claimed it was a performance that many outside the club might have suspected was beyond the champions on current form: “I think people expected us to slip tonight. I’m pretty sure people thought ’That will be really tricky for Liverpool’. It was difficult but we did it. I don’t believe in motivating too much in this manner, yes we can use this from time to time, but we don’t have enough contact with the outside world to really know how much people wish us to fail.
“But it’s clear – Liverpool playing Leipzig; the chances we had to win the game dropped minute by minute in peoples’ perception. That’s fine. I would probably have said the same if I wasn’t that close to the team. But the boys reacted in a really good way and I’m very happy about that.”