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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has every reason to be all smiles as his side picked up a 2-0 win over RB Leipzig in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie.
The Reds enjoyed much of the play in the first half as they kept Leipzig very quiet in Budapest.
And Klopp’s side were rewarded early in the second period as Mohamed Salah worked an opening to slot past ex-Reds keeper Peter Gulacsi one-on-one.
Sadio Mane doubled the lead just five minutes later as he got away from the Leipzig defence before delivering a cool finish to give Liverpool a commanding lead going into the second leg.
The second leg takes place next month, and regardless of where the home tie ends up being played, Klopp can take plenty of positives from a night to remember in Hungary.
Kabak provides vital solution
Liverpool delivered one of their most solid defensive displays against Leipzig since losing Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez setbacks.
Plenty of praise must be given to deadline day Ozan Kabak for that, as he provided the composure and know-how on the last line that the Reds have been lacking.
Without their usual suspects at the back, Klopp is going to need Kabak to be at his best if Liverpool are to reach the latter stages.
Persevering with Thiago in midfield
Thiago Alcantara has received plenty of criticism since his move from Bayern Munich last summer, and not all of it unfairly.
But the Spaniard showed his experience against German sides by dictating the play in the way Klopp has only been able to dream of so far.
Thiago looked like much less of a “liability” in defence too, it must be said.
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Stunting the wing-back threat
Liverpool’s high pressing full-backs stunted Leipzig’s threat from their wing-backs perfectly, and made the back three look very shaky at times.
Angelino and Tyler Adams have showed they have match-winning quality this season, but they barely got a sniff against Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, who both put in their best showings for some time.
Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann may have to rethink their system for the second leg.
Attack looking back to its best
Much has been made of Liverpool’s attack being past its best.
But Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane showed why they are still a forced to be reckoned with by delivering a much more familiar performance.
Salah and Mane broke away in trademark style for both of Liverpool’s goals as Firmino hung deeper – just how Klopp likes it.
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- Champions League
- Jurgen Klopp
- Mohamed Salah
- Sadio Mane
- Virgil van Dijk
- Liverpool FC
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