Jurgen Klopp labelled Sadio Mane “a machine” after the Senegal forward kept Liverpool’s title hopes alive with the winning goal in Tuesday’s 2-1 win at Aston Villa.
Liverpool were aiming to bounce back from the disappointment of dropping points in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham on Saturday, a stalemate that allowed Manchester City to move three clear at the summit.
The Reds then appeared to be in danger of seeing City climb even further ahead when Douglas Luiz put Villa in front in the third minute at Villa Park.
Joel Matip quickly restored parity and Mane got the decisive goal just past the hour, awkwardly rotating his body to meet Luis Diaz’s cross and plant a header in the bottom-right corner.
That was Mane’s 15th Premier League goal of the season, which have come every 182.3 minutes on average, making Liverpool just the second team in Premier League history to have three players (Mane, Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah) reach that figure in a single season.
But it was more than just the goal that impressed Klopp. No player on the pitch engaged in more duels than Mane (16), and his manager wanted to commend the all-round work rate on display.
“He’s a machine, I told him after the game,” Klopp told Sky Sports. “He is a massive player, massive player. His physicality is brutal.
“He is a mix of technique, desire and physicality when at the moment everyone has a few yards in the legs – you can’t see it [fatigue] with him, to be honest.
“Top goal, he is just a fantastic, world-class player.”
On the goal, Klopp added to BBC Sport: “The whole situation was class. It was top class. Luis crossing in a moment when nobody expected it apart from Sadio.
“We did not have time to train and work on it, and I am happy in this moment he pretended to shoot and crossed.
“It is difficult for the goalie and all of a sudden he puts his head there, and it is nice and soft, but it was a goal.”
The result lifted Liverpool back level with City on points, but Pep Guardiola’s men play their game in hand on Wednesday against a Wolves side who have lost three of their previous four games.
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