Premier League • England

Jurgen Klopp raves over ‘top boy’ who really ‘showed up’ for Liverpool in derby win as Reds find some of their old swagger

Jurgen Klopp Liverpool v Everton

Jurgen Klopp was full of praise for his Liverpool players after the 2-0 Merseyside derby win over Everton at Anfield, although one young midfielder was singled out.

The Reds’ first Premier League win of the year – and January signing Cody Gakpo’s maiden goal for the club – brought new Everton manager Sean Dyche’s honeymoon period to an abrupt end in the 242nd Merseyside derby.

Having beaten leaders Arsenal in his first match in charge, the former Clarets boss and his side made the short trip across Stanley Park arguably with more confidence and momentum considering their hosts’ much-publicised problems.

But they left with chants of “going down” and “it’s your last trip to Anfield” ringing in their ears after goals from Mohamed Salah and Gapko in a 14-minute period bridging half-time secured a 2-0 win for the home side.

And speaking after the match, Klopp told Sky Sports: “The atmosphere was outstanding, I am in love with my crowd and what they did tonight, it was special and was extremely helpful – the boys paid it back. It was a real derby and we played a game we wanted to play, not a game Everton wanted to.

“We kept the ball, working the sides and stayed patient. We got in behind their line. I saw a real unit tonight, everyone was really fighting and we scored from two sensational counter-attacks. Tonight we were there and that has to be the sign for us what we have to do. We probably had 70% possession and scored from two counters, that makes it special.

“Last week the first ball came in, deflection and goal. Yes, it was the biggest difference from other games but the performance of the full game was the best for a while. We will take wins when you don’t play well but much better to get three points when you deserve it and today we deserved it.

“A massive relief. You never know when you are going to do it next. Whatever the crowd asked me I would have done except for getting rid of my clothes.

“I really think – and you don’t want to be in difficult situations – the way you behave defines the future. This club has been through worse things but we are the club who can show who can deal with difficult moments. I enjoyed each second of the game.”

On the performance of Man of the Match Stefan Bajcetic, Klopp added: “I saw a lot of good performances tonight but Stefan showed up. We are really happy with him, a top boy, really smart and calm. He played in a new position, at eight, and I asked him afterwards if he liked it and he said yes. It is a nice story.”

Salah also talks up Liverpool starlet after derby win

Mo Salah also pointed out the importance of the victory, adding: “It’s a huge win for us, we had a perfect week to train and the players were so excited and we couldn’t wait for the game to turn everything around and hopefully it was a start.

On his goal, Salah added: “I know that Darwin [Nunez] is really fast so they had a corner and we played a one two, I knew that he was going to play the ball in the space so I was running as fast as I could and scored so that’s the most important thing.”

“We were a little bit lucky but luck always comes when you work really hard and I’m sure everybody was excited for that game to change everything and hopefully again that is a start.

“Henderson and Milner were speaking and said we have to play our football and we have to enjoy so we managed to play good and it looks like all Liverpool but that has started since last week.”

Salah was also full of praise for Bajectic after an outstanding performance from the young Reds midfielder.

He added: “He’s a great player and person, he always tries to work hard. Since he started playing for us, he has been our best player maybe so hopefully he keeps that confidence and keeps going.”

Bajectic himself was thrilled how he performed, adding: “To be fair, I played in a different position, I thought it would be less comfortable but it was good and I enjoyed it a lot.

“Mo Salah is probably one of the best players ever in Liverpool history so it is nice to hear a legend say that to me.

“I won more confidence playing at Anfield for a couple of games so I always love a tackle so I combine both and that is good.

“It was a great game, with the crowd and the derby. Hopefully we keep playing well and win more games.”

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