Liverpool FC forward Sadio Mane was on target in Liverpool’s comfortable 2-0 win over Villareal last night. Ever the man for a big occasion, the Senegalese attacker toe-poked the ball into the net after a fantastic through ball by Mo Salah. The goal, coming just 2 minutes after Jordan Henderson’s cross/shot was deflected into the Villarreal net, effectively killed the game.
With that goal, Mane took his goal tally at the knockout stage to 14, drawing level with former Ivory Coast international Didier Drogba as the highest-scoring African in the history of the Champions League.
Tonight Sadio Mane equalled Didier Drogba as the African player with the most #UCL knockout goals (14).— Jack Lusby (@LusbyJack) April 27, 2022
Here's how many games it took them to do it:
Drogba - 46
Mane - 25
That's 14 goals in 25 knockout games in the Champions League for Mane. Incredible. pic.twitter.com/CFUbWu7csB
Salah’s assist for Mane also marked the seventh time the two teammates have combined for a goal in the Champions League.
7 - Mohamed Salah’s assist for Sadio Mané was the seventh time the pair have combined for a goal in the UEFA Champions League; the joint-most of any duo for English teams in the competition, equalling Wayne Rooney & Ryan Giggs and Mohamed Salah & Roberto Firmino. Synergy. pic.twitter.com/H5XspGtE7p— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 27, 2022
Speaking in his post-match press conference, Jürgen Klopp discussed Mane’s move into the centre of the attack, and lavished him with praise.
“He can play left and can play central, both positions world-class.”
“He started for us here at Liverpool on the right-wing, the older ones in the room will remember he scored at Arsenal, maybe his first goal when he cut inside and fired the ball with his left foot in the far corner.”
“So, yes, absolutely outstanding. Love it. In the moment it’s just, for us, a good alternative.”
“I love Diogo in the centre, I love Bobby in the centre and I love Sadio on the left. We should not be that fixed. We have a look and there are different ways that Sadio plays.”
“Sometimes we want him to drop slightly more, today we wanted him to stay more between the centre-halves, keep them away and offer the runs in behind.”
“There are no secrets because if you watch it back you will see it anyway. He has the skillset for it, that’s the reason why he is there.”
Six years on from his transfer from Southampton, Sadio Mane continues to grow his legend and write his name into the history books of the club, and I’m very much here for it.