Klopp impressed by Mane return as substitute sinks Norwich
Sadio Mane came off the bench to net Liverpool's winning goal at Norwich, impressing Jurgen Klopp ahead of the clash with Atletico Madrid.FotMob - over 1 year ago
Liverpool's match-winner Sadio Mane made the "perfect" return from injury at Norwich City - and now he looks primed to face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.
Reds boss Jurgen Klopp was delighted with the impact of Mane, with the Senegal forward returning from his hamstring setback to strike a stunning late goal at Carrow Road.
A 1-0 win moved Liverpool 25 points clear of second-placed Manchester City, preserving their record of having dropped only two points all season in the Premier League.
Mane and James Milner both came off the bench after recent lay-offs to play their part in Liverpool's 25th win in 26 league outings this term.
Klopp said: "It helps when you have such quality on the bench to bring on."
Now Liverpool turn their focus to Tuesday's first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, a trip to the Wanda Metropolitano to take on Diego Simeone's Atletico.
"Sadio could have started, of course," Klopp said, "but I wanted to have a free decision for Tuesday actually.
"I don't think too often and too much about these games, but when two players are back from injuries, like Sadio and Fabinho, you don't think they can play two games. [Don't think they] should play; can, yes, if you have to, but should play.
"And the quality of the other boys is just too big that you have to push somebody through. It was perfect for Sadio to get a few minutes. It looked like he was ready, yes."
Klopp stressed Liverpool's performance in windswept Norwich was not perfect and spoke of the team playing "two or three or four long balls too many".
"Obviously our midfield was sometimes surprised by the long balls of our centre-halves and just couldn't push up early enough or quick enough, so we didn't win the second balls and all these kind of things," Klopp said in his post-match news conference.
"You need to get used to circumstances and after 45 minutes we knew how it feels. More information from us at half-time and we could improve, that was obviously much better then second half.
"We had so many counter-press situations where we won the ball back, where we put them under pressure, kept them under pressure and scored a wonderful goal. That's it."
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson set up Mane's winner with a long pass that the striker took down skilfully before turning and firing past Tim Krul.
Speaking to Liverpool's official website, Henderson said: "It was a fantastic run from Sadio, great touch and a great finish – fantastic goal from him.
"It's good that Sadio is back after his injury and he's straight on the scoresheet, so nice to have him back and nice to get the three points."
Henderson added: "We've got to recover quickly, we've got another big game in midweek against Atletico Madrid which will be another tough test, so we've just got to go there and do everything we can to get a good result."