Jürgen Klopp praised Mohamed Salah’s gamechanging influence and focus after the Liverpool forward marked his final game before the Africa Cup of Nations with an instrumental role in the defeat of Newcastle.
Salah had a first-half penalty saved by the Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka but kept his composure to score his 150th and 151st league goals for Liverpool, moving his side three points clear at the top. The Egypt captain and midfielder Wataru Endo, who is representing Japan at the Asian Cup, will depart for international duty before the FA Cup tie at Arsenal.
The Liverpool manager said: “Nobody should be really surprised that Mo can change a game or can improve in a game, because he’s done it hundreds of times. The more goals you have the more you are used to missing chances and understanding what you have to do to keep going and improving and that was what Mo did.
“The situation of the game, to bring the game in the right direction, was when Darwin [Núñez] squared the ball to Mo. I would say everyone in the stadium would have tried to hammer that goal, so it was incredible. It was a super game from start to finish.”
Klopp dropped his wedding ring during the post-match celebrations and was indebted to a television cameraman for finding it. “I lost it once and I needed a professional diver because I lost it in the sea,” he admitted. “From time to time [it happens] when I lose one or two kilos. I was too lively and I lost it and I had a massive shock. The cameraman annoyed me quite a few times this season but now he has a lot of shots free because that was really important.”
Salah backed Liverpool to maintain their title challenge in his absence. “I want to win this competition, I would love to win it [the Afcon],” he said. “But, without me, I’m sure the players will manage to win games. We have fantastic players, really good quality, they just need to keep the pressure away and play their football. We have players who can play in my position, they can do what I am doing.”