LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - Liverpool’s manager Juergen Klopp refused to dwell on the two late goals they conceded in a 5-2 win over AS Roma in their Champions League semi-final, first leg on Tuesday, saying his team had been “perfect” for 80 minutes.
“Of course, we would have been more happy with 5-0 or 5-1 but 5-2 is a fantastic result. We go there and try again,” said the German coach after Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino claimed two goals each against the shell-shocked Italians.
“The boys played a brilliant game over a very long period. Even the last minutes when we conceded. We made one mistake and the ref made one mistake (awarding a penalty) and that was two goals for them.
“We have to work again in Rome, that is no problem. There would have been work to do if we had won 5-0. Roma would have tried everything anyway,” he said.
Salah scored two superbly taken goals to take his season tally in all competitions to 43 and his Champions League total to 10 for the season — a club record for a Liverpool player in a single European campaign.
Klopp was clearly impressed by the Egyptian’s finishing, which saw him open the scoring with a beautiful curling left-foot shot into the top corner and then double the advantage with a perfectly executed lift over advancing keeper Alisson.
“The first goal is just a genius strike, he scored already a few like this, so that makes clear it is no coincidence,” he told reporters.
“The second is brilliant play, Bobby (Firmino) between the lines and he (Salah) makes the play. Then he makes the other two goals,” added Klopp, referring to Salah’s assists for Sadio Mane and Firmino after the break.
The former Dortmund manager did not regret taking Salah off in the 75th minute with Liverpool 5-0 ahead, saying he wanted to protect the PFA Player of the Year from possible injury.
“If anyone wants to say it is my mistake we concede the two goals because I change the striker, I have no problem with that. We did not prepare our passes. He was running (to through balls) all the time and it would not have helped us if he got an injury.”
But Klopp stopped short of saying that Salah, signed from Roma for 42 million euros ($51.37 million) in June, was now the best player in the world.
“What a player. If you think he is the best in the world, write it or say it. He is in outstandingly good shape, world class shape, but to be the best in the world you need to do it over a longer period, I think.”
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Reporting by Simon Evansl; Editing by Ken Ferris