Tue, Apr 16, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Klopp lauds Salah after vital win

THE FINAL MONTH:With Manchester City having tricky games against Spurs and Manchester United, Liverpool are convinced they can win league title

AFP, LIVERPOOL, England

Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, left, scores past Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga in their Premier League match at Anfield in Liverpool, England, on Sunday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Juergen Klopp on Sunday hailed “fantastic” Mohamed Salah as the key to Liverpool’s title dreams as they powered back to the top of the English Premier League thanks to the Egypt star’s stunning strike in a 2-0 win over Chelsea.

Klopp’s side had surrendered pole position a few hours earlier when Manchester City won 3-1 at Crystal Palace, piling pressure on the Reds to respond as the title race heats up, but Liverpool rose to the challenge as Sadio Mane’s opener five minutes after halftime and a blistering long-range drive from Salah two minutes later moved them two points clear of second-placed City on a raucous afternoon at Anfield.

“It was a fantastic goal from Mo. I had the best view,” Klopp said after Salah’s first goal from outside the penalty area in the league since January last year. “What a finish, what a shot, but the whole move around it. Wow, brilliant. I’m so proud of the team, it was a fantastic performance. I’m so thankful I can be a part of this. It’s overwhelming at times.”

City have five games left compared with just four for Liverpool, leaving the destiny of the title in the hands of the champions, but there is a growing feeling at Anfield that this will be the season Liverpool finally end their 29-year wait to be crowned kings of English soccer.

With City having difficult league fixtures looming against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, Klopp’s men are convinced they can hold onto pole position.

Their run-in is undoubtedly less daunting than City’s, with Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town and Newcastle United on the schedule before a potential title party against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield.

“The first question in the meeting today was: ‘What is the City score?’ You cannot avoid knowing about it,” Klopp said of a gripping title battle. “We expect them to win all their games, so we just need to get as many points as possible. If we’re champions then great, but if not we are still a really good football team.”

For fourth-placed Chelsea the loss was a blow to their bid for a UEFA Champions League spot next season and they would drop to fifth place if Arsenal won at Watford yesterday.

Claiming that Liverpool’s first goal should have been ruled out for a foul on Emerson, Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri grumbled: “In my opinion there was a foul. I think the level in Premier League is the best in the world, but not for the referees. We stayed in the match for 50 minutes. It’s not easy of course, but we have to fight to the end [for the top four].”

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