Five goals and a clean sheet is an excellent result. Liverpool leave Portugal a dominant force that never let up on FC Porto throughout the ninety-odd minutes of the first leg of their Champions League tie. And the plaudits go out to every single player on the pitch. Sadio Mane scored a hat-trick. Roberto Firmino got one. Mohamed Salah got one. James Milner was in full Milly-mode. Virgil Van Dijk was effectively tall and imposing. Even Danny Ings earned himself a mention by assisting Sadio’s third.
Jürgen Klopp was visible elated by what he was witnessing from his players on the pitch. The plan was coming together and then some. And post-match the manager was all too happy to praise his team’s effort against one of the top sides in Europe.
“In the end it was a high result,” Klopp said, “but I think everyone saw in the game there were moments where we were not as compact as we wanted to be and Porto were strong and had their moments.
“We scored fantastic goals in the right moment. I loved the first goal. Counter-pressing situation, Dejan (Lovren) wins the ball back in front of the striker.”
This was followed by Gini Wijnaldum receiving the ball, driving forward into the box and creating the chaos that led to Sadio’s opener.
“Then Milly’s fantastic strike. Mo is there for the rebound.” That’s the second goal where Klopp fails to mention the amazing skill and composure that Salah displays to put that ball into the net. The quick, little touches to get around the keeper and fool the last defender.
“Third goal, outstanding counter-attack. That’s important. We scored the goals they didn’t score.”
But the match was more than goals and assists. The Liverpool players on the pitch put in an incredible effort to constantly harry the Porto players. It was jaw-dropping counter-pressing, tough and intelligent tackling and so much blasted speed.
“My moment of the first half, I told the dressing room at half-time,” said Klopp of a particular tackle by Salah, “was when Mo came from behind (to make the tackle) and we had this counter-pressing situation with the ball back. That’s what we needed tonight.
“If we work like that we can be successful. We did the right things at the right moments and won the game.
It was a robust performance from Liverpool from start to finish. The team defended incredibly together while always looking dangerous on the break.
“We defended really well. Porto are top of the league. You are not top of the league if you don’t play football.
“Both centre-halves and full-backs really spot on. Robbo (Andy Robertson) tonight, wow. What a performance. Trent (Alexander-Arnold), sometimes you forget his age. It was really good.
“All the midfielders were fantastic and most important the three boys up front helped us in an outstanding manner. Sadio had his comeback and Roberto was there again with his work rate.”
That was Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool playing. Intense, fast, strong, relentless and a whole bunch of other glowing and well-deserved platitudes. Enjoy the win and let these good feelings wash over you. We’ve got this Champions League thing in the bag.