Liverpool bounced back from their dismal run of form in recent games to beat RB Leipzig 2 – 0 in a first leg round of 16 Champions League tie on Tuesday, February 16.
It was two half-time strikes from usual suspects, Mo Salah and Sadio Mane that enabled the Reds gain control of the contest, which saw them put one foot already in the last eight.
While a defeat in Hungary would have plunged the Reds into further crisis, Jurgen Klopp believes his team’s critics had thought they would ‘slip up’.
Liverpool lost three games in a row before their Champions League tie against RB Leipzig, but at the end of the day, the Reds’ boss admits he was pleased with the mentality of his team.
“It’s just a lot of people expected us to slip again because of the situation but the boys didn’t,’ said Klopp. ‘I do not believe in motivation too much of wanting to prove people wrong, I just think people expected us to find it difficult again.
“I was really pleased with the performance and it led to a deserved win. It was a game that we did not expect big advantages because of the mentality of both teams but I thought we were better for most of the night. I know Leipzig pretty well and I know how overwhelming they can be.
“That is what we had to deal with and the boys played a really good game. We did well. We are not children anymore and I know people have not been happy with results. The boys deserved the win, I think. We forced them to make mistakes and I am completely happy with the performance.’
Klopp looked much-more like his old-self on the sidelines and was constantly barking out instructions and encouragement; he was rewarded in the second period when the outstanding Salah and Mane capitalised on defensive errors to give Liverpool a significant buffer for the second leg.
He was also delighted by Liverpool’s defence keeping a clean sheet, which was preserved by two crucial saves from Alisson Becker either side of half-time. The Brazilian has made uncharacteristic errors in recent weeks but this display was more in keeping with his standards.
“Definitely,’ said Klopp, when asked about Alisson’s improvement. ‘But he had big moments in the Leicester game, eh? But of course a clean sheet helps, as you can imagine. Ali will sleep really well in the plane on the way home! As always, he helped us a lot.
“I think that (new signing) Ozan Kabak’s attitude was good. I’m very happy with his performance. And Hendo, he can play this position perfectly. It’s not that Leipzig didn’t have a chance, Ali had to intervene also, but that’s normal.
“Overall I can say that, the whole package, I’m very pleased with the performance. Whatever they tried, we had an answer. They had chances, but that’s normal. The majority of the time, we had control of the game which was very important, and that doesn’t happen a lot against Leipzig.’
Liverpool will leap right back into another big match this weekend, as the Reds are set to face Everton in the Premier League.
Liverpool currently sit sixth in the league, two points behind fifth-place West Ham and fourth-place Chelsea.