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reds win 'People were expecting us to slip again' - Jurgen Klopp salutes Liverpool's Champions League win

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Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates after scoring their side's first goal (Photo by Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty Images)

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates after scoring their side's first goal (Photo by Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty Images)

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates after scoring their side's first goal (Photo by Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty Images)

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes his players answered their doubters with a fine 2-0 away win against RB Leipzig in the Champions League.

Three successive Premier League defeats led to Reds manager Klopp conceding their title defence is over, but they have taken a giant stride towards the quarter-finals of Europe’s premier club competition.

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Liverpool's manager Jurgen Klopp gestures during the Champions League round of 16, first leg, soccer match between RB Leipzig and Liverpool at the Ferenc Puskas stadium in Budapest, Hungary, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Laszlo Balogh)

Liverpool's manager Jurgen Klopp gestures during the Champions League round of 16, first leg, soccer match between RB Leipzig and Liverpool at the Ferenc Puskas stadium in Budapest, Hungary, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Laszlo Balogh)

Liverpool's manager Jurgen Klopp gestures during the Champions League round of 16, first leg, soccer match between RB Leipzig and Liverpool at the Ferenc Puskas stadium in Budapest, Hungary, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Laszlo Balogh)

Both Liverpool goals came via Leipzig errors, with Mohamed Salah latching on to a woeful back pass by Marcel Sabitzer to slot home in the 53rd minute, and Sadio Mane doing likewise five minutes later after Nordi Mukiele’s slip-up.

The nominal visitors – this game had to take place in the Hungarian capital because of restrictions on travel into Germany due to coronavirus – were given a let-off early on when Dani Olmo headed against a post.

Substitute Hwang Hee-chan put wide late on but a makeshift Liverpool defence low on confidence kept only the team’s second clean sheet in their last 11 matches against a side that reached the Champions League semi-finals last term.

"It was the game we wanted, the game we needed," declared Klopp.

"Leipzig can be a real monster, they overrun teams, they are really physical and tonight we controlled them in an exceptional way. We played a really good game and we got the result we deserved.

"We defended really well and had good recovery. It was a tough game with only two days since the last one. It's only the first leg, we know that but a lot of people were waiting for us to slip again.

"For two years we were really good and this year we have problems, that's fine. A lot of people expected us to slip again but the boys didn't.

"We are not children anymore, so we don’t think everything is fine because we won one game,” he said. “It is much more important that we played good football again, and not for the first time in the last few weeks.

"I understand and respect that nobody is really happy with the results, but the football we played in dominating (Manchester) City in a way that doesn’t happen often, it was the same against Leicester, we should not forget that.

"Here, the result came with it. We kept a clean sheet, we scored two goals, we forced the opponent to make the mistakes we made in the last few weeks."

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson admitted it was a massive win for his side, on a night when he was again part of a make-shift defensive line-up.

"It was an important game for us, a tough game and we're really happy overall. Keeping a clean sheet was important for us," he told BT Sport.

"From start to finish, defensively throughout the team we pressed really well and won the ball back. A good win but it's only half the job done.

"We kept going and got our reward with the goals - we've got to be pleased with that."

Meanwhile, Niall Quinn believes Klopp won his personal duel with Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann before a ball was kicked, as he referenced a touchline exchange between the duo.

"Klopp will win a psychological battle between Nagelsmann every day of the week," Quinn told Virgin Media Sport. "Klopp was telling him how bad he was at Anfield last time and the kid didn't know what to do. This is the modern day Fergie."

The second leg of the tie is expected to be played away from Anfield as Leipzig would not be permitted to fly to England without a period of quarantine due to Covid-19 restrictions, with a decision on the venue likely to be made in the coming days.

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