Salzburg 0-2 Liverpool: Jürgen Klopp’s reaction

Jürgen Klopp hailed his Liverpool players for the manner in which they approached Tuesday’s decisive Champions League meeting with Salzburg.

The Reds knew a draw or win at Red Bull Arena would be sufficient to qualify for the last 16 but had to weather a frantic first half in Austria full of chances at either end.

Klopp’s men seized control in the second period, though, and goals from Naby Keita and Mohamed Salah – via an incredible finish from a narrow angle – in the space of 100 seconds clinched top spot in Group E for the European Cup holders.

Pos.PWDLGFGAGDPts
1Liverpool6411138513
2Napoli6330114712
3FC Red Bull Salzburg6213161337
4KRC Genk6015520-151

Read a summary of the manager’s post-match press conference, which included an update on the injury sustained by Dejan Lovren, below…

On an impressive Liverpool performance…

I couldn’t have more respect actually for what Salzburg is doing. I know how people see it – you think being the best team in Austria is ‘OK’. Then you see how good they are, how good they were in the first game, how good they were against Napoli and Genk and then you could come here as the current Champions League winner and misunderstand that situation. And I love it, I really love it that my team is so smart that they listen and they put in a shift like that. Salzburg was unbelievably strong, especially in the first half, but we as well were ready for that fight. We could have scored in the first half already, maybe should have scored. In the second half it’s not easy to keep that intensity; we scored the goals, could have scored more but really massive respect for Jesse [Marsch] and Salzburg for what they did here.

On whether he can explain Salah’s stunning finish…

Thank God, I don’t have to! I saw it one time back and for sure it was the most difficult situation he had tonight. But that’s exactly what I said about the team – he played really well but didn’t score in the situations we expect him usually to score, but staying on track and making such a decisive and very difficult finish, that probably says much more about him than all of the other goals he has scored. So, staying concentrated, belief in the next moment, it was brilliant. A very, very difficult goal but a sensational finish.

On the limits for a Liverpool team that are leading the Premier League and have topped their Champions League group…

Of course there are limits and we have to work hard to achieve what we want. We wanted to move on to the next knockout phase, that was important, and it wasn’t in our plan to be the leader of the Premier League in December but it’s great to be there. But we need to use everything and we need to work very hard. Yes, there are limits and if the boys play like this then it makes it easier for us but they have to be ready and try to achieve their goals always like they did tonight.

On the intensity of the game and whether he felt during the match it could have gone differently…

I didn’t have the feeling during the game. I knew it before but during the game I really don’t think about that. You need to use the opportunities you have during the game. They began great, they began very quickly but then Haaland and Hwang saw it’s not easy to win a race with Virgil. Jesse and his team worked great with their team and gave them a fantastic attitude; they used what they could use, but we also played very well in the spaces. When we started to play more intelligently and use the spaces we had in the second half then we used our opportunities. In the second half, how we played was very difficult for Salzburg. I saw we had 21 attempts on goal and we could have scored five or six times, so it was really difficult for Salzburg in the second half. But, once again, my highest respect for Jesse and his team.

On the performances of former Salzburg players Keita and Sadio Mane…

Clearly, you educate great players here in Salzburg. I think both played very well. In the beginning we used Naby a little bit on the wing and then we changed our system from 4-3-3 to 4-4-1-1 and used him in the No.10 position and he really played great. Both of them played great, fantastic.