PORTO, Portugal, Feb 15 – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp praised hat-trick hero Sadio Mane and his side’s “perfect” performance after they all but booked their place in the Champions League last eight on Wednesday by thumping Porto.
The five-time champions romped to a 5-0 victory at the Portuguese league leaders, and when asked if Liverpool had put in a perfect performance, Klopp told BT Sport: “Yes. You could say that of course.
“It was very professional, very mature in the right moments, very aggressive, good defending, good counter-attacking, keeping the ball, moving them around.
“In this game it was possible, usually it’s not that easy.”
In one of Liverpool’s best away displays since Klopp took over in October 2015, Mohamed Salah grabbed his 30th goal of the season and Roberto Firmino moved second in this season’s Champions League goalscoring charts behind Cristiano Ronaldo with his seventh of the tournament proper.
The German coach hailed his star forwards’ determination, after his team pressed an outclassed Porto into submission.
“At half-time I said, ‘the situation of the first half even when we were 2-0 up was when Mo Salah won the ball back in the centre of the park’,” Klopp added.
“That’s what you need in a game like this, a competition like this.
“I saw a lot of fantastic performances tonight, a result like this is only possible if they are all spot on.”
Liverpool were a threat all over the pitch, with Andrew Robertson impressing again at left-back and midfielder James Milner’s tireless running adding to the dynamism of the front three.
“I think Robertson played an outstanding game, finally he found his crosses, I thought they were in Scotland or somewhere,” Klopp said.
“Of course Sadio is man of the match but Roberto Firmino’s work rate was outstanding again.”
Mane is just the second Liverpool player to score a Champions League hat-trick away from home, following in the footsteps of Michael Owen, who did it twice.
“The most important thing is that we played as a team, and we did that, we played great football and we created a lot of chances,” said the Senegalese international.
“Which was the best goal? The third one pleased me the most because it was a nice strike.”
For Porto, this was an unexpectedly poor performance after a renaissance this season under former Portugal midfielder Sergio Conceicao.
“We didn’t have a good day against very strong, efficient opponents who were able to score at key moments,” admitted the 43-year-old.
“Our mistakes led to Liverpool goals. We were too passive, usually we are better in the duels.”