Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has heaped praise on Diogo Jota after the forward bagged two goals against Southampton.
The Reds ran out 4-0 winners at Anfield, as Jota was joined by Thiago Alcantara and Virgil van Dijk on the scoresheet. The result puts them on 28 points from 13 games, and just one behind league leaders Chelsea.
Thomas Tuchel’s side have the chance to go four points ahead when they host Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Jota opened the scoring against Saints within just two minutes. Sadio Mane and Andy Robertson linked up down the left, before Mane put a ball into the box. Jota slid in to make it seven goals for the campaign.
His eighth came 20 minutes later, when he tapped into an open net after being set up by the in-form Mo Salah.
Thiago, who scored a great goal against Porto in midweek, then continued his good form by putting Liverpool 3-0 up. His left-footed drive took a big deflection on its way past Alex McCarthy.
van Dijk popped up with a rare goal after the break. He connected with a Trent Alexander-Arnold corner after getting a yard away from Oriol Romeu in the box. McCarthy got contact on the volley but couldn’t keep it out.
In his post-match interview, Klopp said (via The Guardian): “In the early stages we were shocked because we couldn’t play the football we wanted to play. All of a sudden you lose your rhythm and that is what happened to us last season.
“This year we had a pre-season which was a proper pre-season, which was incredibly helpful. We could work on a lot things and found the stability back. Talking about the stability, I was not happy with the chances we conceded today, to be honest.
“I have no problem if Alisson has to make saves in a game but these saves were spectacular, one-on-one with the goalkeeper twice shouldn’t happen in a game too often. We have to work on that to be as stable, as serious, ruthless defensively as somehow possible so that gives us the platform to play football and then we can score. It won’t be forever we score two goals a game but I’m happy for now.”
When asked about Portugal international Jota, Klopp added: “Diogo is an exceptional player and exceptional boy. He signed for us one and half years ago and he is the perfect signing as he has everything a Liverpool player in this squad needs; he has the technical skills, he has the physical skills and he is very smart so can learn all the tactical stuff quickly.
“He can also play the three forward positions and the No 10. He has the speed and desire to finish things off. His goalscoring record is pretty good.
“Unfortunately he had a big injury last year and that is never helpful but he is back and he fits really well into this team and I am really happy for him. Today he could have made a better decision to score but he was smart enough to score the second time.”
Jota ‘takes advantage’ of top Liverpool team-mates
During a post-match interview with Sky Sports, goalscorer Jota said: “In the end it is a good game for us. We adapted well to their three at the back. They changed again in the second half. We took advantage. There were spaces in the first half. A clean sheet too so a good performance.
“It is always easier when you start well with a goal at home. We knew in the past we have been 2-0 up and not won the game. But we did today and that is important. The most important is that we win.
“I take advantage of playing for a good team. Fortunately for me I can score goals and hopefully keep doing it.
“Even with the changes we make from the Champions League it is important to have everyone on board. This month it is a game every three days. We just need to keep going.”