Klopp hails Salah as he targets 97-point total

LONDON • Jurgen Klopp was "blown away" by the brilliance of Mohamed Salah's strike against Chelsea as he urged Liverpool to produce a flawless finish to the English Premier League title race.

The Egypt international struck an astounding goal just two minutes after fellow forward Sadio Mane - his 13th in 16 games - opened the scoring at Anfield as the Reds regained a two-point lead over Manchester City with a 2-0 Premier League victory against Maurizio Sarri's side on Sunday.

While Klopp was thrilled by what he described as a complete team performance, it was Salah's emphatic finish past Kepa Arrizabalaga that left him momentarily speechless.

He said post-game: "I didn't think anything in that moment, but I know I was really happy because I was in line with the ball and maybe I saw first that it would go in.

"It was a really outstanding finish and I don't want to minimise that but I loved the first goal, too. I was immediately reminded of the 4-3 against Borussia Dortmund.

"Hendo (Jordan Henderson) instead of Milly (James Milner) and Sadio instead of Dejan (Lovren), but good team play, good cross, good header. The performance was really good, but you need the goals and we got them."

Salah has 19 league goals, 22 in total, but had been on a barren run by his high standards with one goal in 10 games before he sealed the win against his former club.

Asked about the drought, Klopp said: "The answer in football is always work rate and the work rate of all three up front was outstanding."

 
 
 

Although Liverpool are only four wins from their first league title since 1990 should City slip up in any of their remaining five matches, Klopp has insisted the focus is on finishing the season with 97 points and not on what Pep Guardiola's team produce.

The German added: "The biggest challenge for us is always facing the world outside. We play our game.

"We only try to collect as many points as possible. What is it now, 85? Four games to play, 97. Let's try. If that's enough, then perfect. If not, we cannot change it.

"By the way, on this point, we can finally close the slipping book. Robbo (Andrew Robertson) slipped (during the game) and nothing happened, so it's not a Liverpool thing. Done."

Defender Virgil van Dijk also urged his teammates to take it game by game, despite the red half of Merseyside anticipating they will finally end 29 years of title hurt next month.

He said: "We just focus on our games, we have a massive game next (at Porto) in the Champions League, then to Cardiff which will be tough as well."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 16, 2019, with the headline 'Klopp hails Salah as he targets 97-point total'. Print Edition | Subscribe