Liverpool forward Sadio Mane scored a hat-trick in the 5-0 win over Porto which virtually guaranteed a place in the Champions League quarter-finals but manager Jurgen Klopp was just as pleased with the team performance.
Mane registered his first hat-trick for the Reds with Mohamed Salah becoming the second-fastest to 30 goals in the club’s history and Roberto Firmino scoring his seventh European goal of the campaign.
Add to that another clean sheet – only the second time since February 2011 they have kept three consecutive clean sheets away from home – and Klopp was happy.
“We defended really well and that was important,” he said.
“Porto are top of the league. You are not top of the league if you don’t play football. Both (our) centre-halves and full-backs were really spot on.
“Robbo (Andy Robertson) wow, what a performance. Trent (Alexander-Arnold), sometimes you forget his age. It was really good tonight.
“All the midfielders were fantastic and most important the three boys up front helped us. They did it in an outstanding manner.”
Senegal international Mane has endured a roller-coaster season after being sent off at Manchester City and then getting an injury but after struggling in recent weeks he appears to have found some goalscoring form at least.
“He gave the right answer,” added Klopp.
“I said to him after the last game (at Southampton) ‘Finally, you are back.’
“After the game we met on the pitch and he showed it again
“He was always important, he was always fantastic for us even in his ‘not that good’ moments. That’s real quality.
“If you are not at 100 per cent but still involved in goals that’s really important. Then it will come if you keep working really hard like he did.
“The first was a little lucky, but the other two – the second one was about being in the right place and he used his fantastic skills on the third one so it’s good, really good. I’m happy about it.”
Salah’s 30th goal in his 36th game was nine slower than George Allan’s feat in 1896 but nonetheless impressive.
“He played a good season, I recognise that already but it’s very important for us,” said Klopp
“We spoke a lot about Mo in the last few weeks, completely deserved.
“Who was quickest? (answer George Allan). Wow. That’s long ago then, because sorry, I don’t know. That makes it more exciting so congratulations, but hopefully it won’t stop.”
The result even prompted Liverpool’s principal owner John W Henry to write his first tweet about the club since 2016.
“Tremendous effort in 5-0 win tonight away from home in Champions League,” he wrote.
“A lot of talent displaying selfless, smart play we all can be proud of. Huge, satisfying step toward final eight.”