With Virgil Van Dijk headlining a clutch of ex-Southampton recruits returning to St. Mary’s Stadium for Liverpool, it instead was—as has tended to be the case this season—the dynamic duo of Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino who stole the show in an assured 2-0 win for the Reds.
The King of Egypt and the Brazilian assisted each other for the goals, with Firmino’s inch-perfect backheel for the second an instant contender for assist of the season.
What a combo! Firmino & Salah #SOULIV pic.twitter.com/MYQcdbdh6s— Lars Nay (@_larsnay) February 11, 2018
Reds boss, Jürgen Klopp was as controlled in his assessment of the win as his team’s performance on the pitch:
“Three points, clean sheet—yeah, almost perfect,” Klopp said in his post-match interview.
“The kind of goals were fantastic. You can’t play better than Roberto and Mo in that moment.”
Although Van Dijk looked every bit the Rolls Royce one expects when shelling out £75m with a dominant showing under a hail of boos from the home fans; other ex-Saints including the likes Sadio Mané and the recovering Adam Lallana didn’t quite have the homecomings they would’ve hoped for, each spurning chances to extend the lead (and pad the goal difference).
“It was not a brilliant performance, not everything worked quite well, the wind was quite strange,” the German continued. “It was difficult circumstances and we did the job. That is very important.
“We scored early, got the second goal in the right moment and then controlled the game.”
Either way, the win restored Liverpool to third in the table ahead of Tottenham and a mere two points behind a stumbling Manchester United, who shockingly fell 1-0 to Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle.
Klopp will now take his squad to Portugal for Valentine’s Day clash with Porto FC in the first leg of the Champions League knockout rounds.