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Resurgent Salah doubles down on his doubters

China Daily | Updated: 2018-10-26 09:32
Mo Salah salutes the crowd while holding a gift from a fan after Liverpool beat Red Star Belgrade 4-0 on Wednesday. REUTERS

Egyptian magician's brace should silence slump talk, declares Klopp

LIVERPOOL - Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hopes talk of Mo Salah's early-season slump will be quashed by a brace in Wednesday's 4-0 Champions League win over Red Star Belgrade at Anfield, which took the Egyptian's career tally for the club to 50 goals.

Salah ended a four-game scoring drought with the winner at Huddersfield on Saturday and looked more like his old self in netting either side of halftime.

Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane were also on target as the prolific front three that led Liverpool to the Champions League final last season all scored in the same game for the first time this campaign.

"He was great, and it's good that we can maybe stop talking about that a little bit," Klopp said of Salah.

"I was not in doubt, he was not in doubt, but if you are constantly asked about it, you think something is up."

Salah has reached his half-century quicker than any other player in Liverpool history after just 65 appearances for the Reds.

"It's great, I'm happy to score my 50th goal," said Salah despite his muted celebrations.

"We know how to play with each other and know our qualities," he added of his combination play with Firmino and Mane.

Liverpool is now back on top of Group C after Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli drew 2-2 in the French capital, but all three remain separated by just two points.

"We are not through yet. This group obviously stays exciting until the end, I think that was clear from the draw," added Klopp.

"But you cannot do more than win your own matches."

Liverpool had struggled for goals in recent weeks with a new-found defensive stability instead keeping it tied with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.

Klopp tinkered with his preferred 4-3-3 system by moving Salah into the middle as the focal point of a 4-2-3-1 and his decision to hand Xherdan Shaqiri a start paid off as the Swiss added some much-needed creativity in midfield.

Shaqiri's pass played Andy Robertson in behind the Red Star defense and his cross was converted by Firmino for his first goal in eight games to get Liverpool off the mark.

Salah then took center stage to push his tally for the season to six despite a slow start that sparked concern he might fall considerably short of the standards of his incredible 44-goal debut campaign at Anfield.

He fired home from another neat touch by Shaqiri to give Klopp's men breathing space before halftime and then from the penalty spot after German referee Daniel Siebert awarded a very soft spot-kick for Filip Stojkovic's challenge on Mane.

Klopp then withdrew Salah before Liverpool's second penalty of the night to rob him the chance of bagging a hat-trick when Milos Degenek handled inside the area.

Mane missed his opportunity in Salah's absence as Milan Borjan turned the penalty onto the crossbar.

However, the Senegalese made amends 10 minutes from time by stabbing home a Daniel Sturridge pass.

Agence France - presse



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