We needed the win against Leipzig, says Liverpool's Klopp

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring in the Champions League last 16, first Leg against RB Leipzig in the Puskas Arena, Budapest on February 16, 2021
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring in the Champions League last 16, first Leg against RB Leipzig in the Puskas Arena, Budapest on February 16, 2021
Image: BERNADETT SZABO / REUTERS

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

"It was the game we wanted, the game we needed," Klopp told reporters. "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."

Liverpool, who had won the Champions League in 2019 and the Premier League title last season, have struggled for form in recent weeks.

Saturday's 3-1 defeat at Leicester City left them in sixth in the Premier League, 13 points behind leaders Manchester City having played a game more.

Klopp then had to shoot down speculation earlier this week that he could leave the Premier League champions and pledged to turn their season around.

His team did just that on Tuesday, scoring twice in five minutes with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to carry a big advantage into their return leg on March 10.

"We played a really good game and we got the result we deserved," Klopp said. "We defended really well and had good recovery. It was a tough game with only two days since the last one. "It's only the first leg, we know that but a lot of people were waiting for us to slip again," the German added.

"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."

Salah easily intercepted a back pass by Leipzig's Marcel Sabitzer to put the Reds ahead in the 53rd minute and on course for their first win in any competition since late January.

Mane then pounced on another mistake when Nordi Mukiele failed to clear a long ball five minutes later, leaving the Germans stunned in Budapest's Puskas Arena where the game had been relocated due to Covid-19 restrictions in Germany.

"It was an important game for us, a tough game," Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson said. "Keeping a clean sheet was important for us.

"We just want to keep going and keep fighting every time we play. There have been a lot of difficult situations throughout the season, but we’ve just got to take each game as it comes and take things one step at a time.

"A good win but it's only half the job done," he added.

The Germans had the better start and Dani Olmo's downward header in the fifth minute bounced off the base of the post.

With Leipzig defending high, Liverpool initially tried to slice through with deep crosses and one of them found Salah in the 15th but his chip was blocked by keeper Peter Gulacsi.

Andy Robertson then tried his luck with an audacious 40-metre lob that almost caught Gulacsi out of position but the Reds had to wait until Salah capitalised with their first chance of the second half.

Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann then saw his players gift another goal with Mukiele's error and Mane's crisp finish.

The Germans, who came into the match on a four-game winning run in all competitions, were largely toothless in attack following the goals until Tyler Adam's miss in stoppage time.

"In the return leg we have to pick up where we left off. Then we will have chances," Sabitzer said, adding that Leipzig had played a good game apart from the two errors.

"It would be better if we had scored but we believe that we have the quality," he added. 

- Reuters

 

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