Liverpool ‘back on top’

CLEAN SWEEP::Liverpool’s victory over Bayern Munich means that all the English sides have made the quarter-finals for the first time since the 2008-2009 season

AFP, MUNICH, Germany

Fri, Mar 15, 2019 - Page 16

Juergen Klopp said his Liverpool side on Wednesday proved they are “back on the European stage” after an impressive 3-1 win at Bayern Munich put them into the Champions League quarter-finals.

Sadio Mane scored twice at the Allianz Arena to put last season’s finalists through with a 3-1 aggregate win.

“It’s a big step to get this club back on the European stage and I am really happy,” Klopp said. “If Barcelona, if Real Madrid come here, they know this is a hard place to win.”

“We have a set a bar for this wonderful club that we really are back on the landscape of top international football. We think that is where this club should be, but let’s carry on, we have a lot to learn, a lot to improve, but we’re back,” he added.

Having missed the goalless first leg at Anfield three weeks ago through suspension, Virgil van Dijk’s long pass led to Mane’s excellent first-half goal.

“His first goal was ridiculous, the calmness with how he’s finished it off,” Liverpool midfielder James Milner told BT Sport.

Van Dijk then headed Liverpool into a 2-1 lead from a Milner corner on 69 minutes after Joel Matip’s own-goal had handed Bayern a first-half equalizer.

Mane made sure of Liverpool’s place in the quarter-final draw by nodding in six minutes from time.

Liverpool’s victory means they join Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Manchester United in the quarter-finals, completing a clean sweep of English sides reaching the last eight for the first time since 2008-2009.

It is a bleaker picture in Germany as Bayern’s exit leaves no Bundesliga club in the quarters for the first time since 2005-2006, as Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 also bowed out in the last 16.

“Both teams were very cautious for a long period, but the second goal took the belief out of us,” Bayern defender Mats Hummels said. “Juergen Klopp is good at neutralizing the opponents’ strengths and he did that once again.”

It is the first time since 2011 that Bayern have failed to make the quarter-finals.