Klopp praises 'most mature' Reds display

LONDON • This was far from the vintage "opera of football" Jurgen Klopp is known for producing but his side still received a rousing reception from the away fans following their "really nice song" which saw them move seven points clear at the top of the Premier League, fuelling hopes they can finally end their 29-year wait for a league title.

After suffering their first loss in the league to champions Manchester City followed by an FA Cup third-round exit at the hands of Wolves, it was vital for Liverpool to stop the blip from turning into a rut at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.

While Klopp's men could not replicate the "Harlem Globetrotters" on their travels, the German was delighted with their "most mature performance of the season" as Liverpool emerged 1-0 victors at Brighton in a tightly contested game that had precious few chances.

Speaking after Mohamed Salah's second-half penalty - his 17th goal of the season - gave Liverpool the three points, the Reds manager added: "We have to deliver results. You have to work hard if you want to be successful and we were ready for it.

"On the good days, everybody can win. On average days, not a lot of teams can win football games and, on a bad day, only a few can win. Today was not a bad day, but it was a difficult day because Brighton are doing really well."

Klopp also insisted the gap, which City can close to four points with victory over Wolves today, "meant nothing as tomorrow and Monday night could be different, and we can only concentrate on ourselves".

But he knows his watertight defence, which recorded their 13th clean sheet in 22 league games this season, provides the perfect base to build on. Only Chelsea (2004-05 season) have let in fewer goals after 22 matches in an English top-flight term.

The predatory instincts of Salah, who moved level with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Harry Kane as the league's top scorer on 14 goals, should also ensure they will be in the title mix come May.

Brighton's game plan of sitting deep meant the visitors dominated possession without any cutting edge before Pascal Gross hauled down Salah in the box and undid Chris Hughton's preparations.

The Seagulls boss, who had no complaints over the spot-kick award, lamented: "I feel for Pascal because Mo Salah is probably the most dangerous player once he gets in those positions one on one."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2019, with the headline 'Klopp praises 'most mature' Reds display'. Print Edition | Subscribe