Jurgen Klopp said he was “blown away” by the quality of Mohamed Salah’s crucial strike as Liverpool returned to the Premier League summit.
The Egyptian’s stunning goal doubled Liverpool’s lead over Chelsea as the Premier League leadership again switched hands within a matter of hours, Klopp’s side responding to Manchester City’s earlier 3-1 win over Crystal Palace.
“It blew me away. I was really happy and I saw it because I was in line with the ball,” Klopp, the Liverpool manager, said. “Maybe I saw it first that it would go in.
“It was a really, really outstanding finish, and I don’t want to minimise that. But I loved the first goal, too [by Sadio Mane], and I was immediately reminded of the 4-3 against Borussia Dortmund. Hendo [Jordan Henderson] instead of Milly [James Milner] and Sadio [Mane] 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.”
After a relatively quiet spell in front of goal, Salah has struck two in crucial and spectacular ways for his side in successive games.
“I said before when you ask me about when I have concerns. The answer for football is always work rate, and the work rate of all three up front today, again, was outstanding,” Klopp said.
“Chelsea are a top, top team. We treat these games like Champions League games, nothing else. And you cannot defend a team like this without offensive wingers.
“How the boys worked was unbelievable. And they got the reward for that. You can get an easy goal from a yard or a shot from 25 yards, a thunderbolt. Outstanding.”
Liverpool needed a vastly improved second-half performance to overcome Maurizio Sarri’s side, the Chelsea manager happy with how his team competed until being blitzed at the start of the second half.
The visitors almost responded by creating chances for Eden Hazard, and Klopp acknowledged their quality.
“Apart from these 10 minutes when Chelsea changed system and had their chances and Ali [Alisson Becker] saved our life, we controlled and dominated the game for 80 minutes, which is the best you can say about a game against Chelsea,” Klopp said.
“But in these 10 minutes they could have changed the game completely, a post and two saves from Alisson, right? But then we controlled the game again. It was a fantastic performance and an even better atmosphere and a very important result.”
Klopp said a few second-half tweaks helped his side.
“We just wanted to be a bit more flexible second half. In the second half the wind was a big plus for us,” he said.
“Chelsea struggled with the build-up, it is just difficult. We used it, and we needed to be a bit more flexible on the right flank. In the first half we were left-dominated. We had our moments on the right as well, but that was one of the things we spoke about at half-time and it was wonderful that we got a goal from there, with Hendo chipping the ball in.”
The German also reserved praise for Fabinho, outstanding again in his deep midfield role.
“You have these days when you see it from the first second it is clicking,” he said. “We were really in a good moment, all three midfielders. It was the plan, Hendo slightly higher and then it gives Fabinho and Naby [Keita] different space.
“From the first moment he was there. Defending this centre, ‘Sarriball’ is really difficult to play against and for good reason. We did it today in a good manner. We gave the boys a lot of responsibility and he was sensational.”