Klopp pleased with much-needed win

He says Reds deserved to beat Leipzig when many expected his slumping side to slip again

Forward Mohamed Salah celebrating after scoring the opener in Liverpool's 2-0 Champions League last-16, first-leg victory over Leipzig on Tuesday that ended a three-game losing streak.
Forward Mohamed Salah celebrating after scoring the opener in Liverpool's 2-0 Champions League last-16, first-leg victory over Leipzig on Tuesday that ended a three-game losing streak.PHOTO: REUTERS

BUDAPEST • Liverpool's 2-0 victory over RB Leipzig in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 first-leg tie on Tuesday was just what the doctor ordered, Jurgen Klopp said after his team snapped their three-game losing run.

The pre-match build-up had been hit by speculation that the Reds manager could leave the Premier League champions over their downturn in form, which he denied.

The game was staged in Budapest because of Covid-19 travel restrictions between Germany and Britain.

Liverpool travelled to Hungary without six first-team regulars but other than an early scare that saw Leipzig's Dani Olmo hit the post, Klopp's side were good value for the win.

The German has pledged to turn their season around and his team did just that on Tuesday, scoring twice in five minutes via Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to carry a big advantage into their return home leg on March 10.

"It was the game we wanted, the game we needed," Klopp said after his side took advantage of two defensive mix-ups.

"Leipzig can be a real monster, they overrun teams, they are really physical and tonight, we controlled them in an exceptional way.

"We forced them to make mistakes. I am happy with the performance. We played a really good game and we got the result we deserved."

Claiming Liverpool had defied expectations as many had predicted another defeat, Klopp added: "It's only the first leg, we know that but a lot of people were waiting for us to slip again.

"For two years, we were really good and this year we have problems, that's fine. A lot of people expected us to slip again but the boys didn't."

The Reds' defence of their league title may be slim but their hopes of silverware via a second European Cup in three years remain very much alive.

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  • Clean sheets for Liverpool in the Champions League in Jurgen Klopp's reign.

For Leipzig, who reached their maiden semi-finals last season, the loss shows they still lack experience at the highest level, with the Bundesliga side playing just their third Champions League season.

"We made two huge mistakes which would be punished at any level," coach Julian Nagelsmann said. "We have to live with the result."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2021, with the headline 'Klopp pleased with much-needed win'. Subscribe