Philippe Coutinho had never scored a goal against Manchester United. On Thursday night, he opened his account, and in glorious manner. Making inexperienced right-back Guillermo Varela look a fool may not be the most impressive thing he's ever done, but the audacious chip over superstar goalkeeper David De Gea's shoulder was an inspired bit of unicorn magic. Playing mighty Manchester United like an Inter training session is indicative of the kind of wizardry the Brazilian is capable of, and it had his manager singing his praises:
"They got the penalty – I think it was a penalty – then Phil had a genius moment. Wonderful. I loved these two minutes before half-time because twice we reacted quicker than the opponent. There was the discussion for the free-kick, Hendo played the ball, had a counter-attack but missed the last pass, like we did in the second half a little bit more often. We had to run back but were again quicker in mind.
"Then Phil used the situation – it was a brilliant moment and decided the game tonight.
"You’ve known him longer than I’ve known him so maybe you know everything about him.
"He had a lot of good moments in the first half – from a working side it was one of the best I’ve ever seen. It was really good, it was a little bit like at Man City. It was really brilliant.
"Then he had this moment when someone played a perfect pass – I’m not sure who played it – and his first touch was not too good. With his technique, usually it is a big chance, so you saw on his face it’s not too easy for him to handle this. He has to trust more in himself because it’s clear with his quality he will always get another one [chance].
"It was brilliant what he did. It was the most unexpected thing you could do in a situation like that – it was a perfect goal."
With 3 goals and 2 assists in his 8 appearances since returning from injury, Coutinho seems to be rounding into form at just the right time, and with Liverpool having served up 5 wins and 3 draws in their last 8 games, all while scoring 16 and conceding only 3, seemingly long odds at Europa League gold and top four finishes suddenly appear as more than mere fantasies. Southampton await on Sunday, and Klopp will hope Coutinho can help his team keep their run of form going.