Premier League • England

Rio Ferdinand names ‘nightmare’ Liverpool star who ran Atletico ragged and has ‘everything in his locker’

Sadio Mane scores, Liverpool celeb v Atletico Madrid in the Champions League tie at Anfield

Liverpool have a chance of going all the way in this season’s Champions League after one man’s return to top form had Rio Ferdinand and fellow pundit Peter Crouch beaming.

The Reds comfortably beat Atletico Madrid 2-0 at Anfield to ensure their progress as group winners with two games to spare. Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane scored the goals, which were both assisted by Trent Alexander-Arnold.

A red card to Felipe did not help Atletico, who were ultimately well beaten by Jurgen Klopp’s side.

With a perfect record from their four games, many will be dreaming of another Champions League success under Klopp. And the Reds manager did little to play down expectations after admitting his pride in his players.

While Mohamed Salah has taken much of the credit this season, a return to form for Mane alongside him has gone quietly unnoticed. Indeed, the Senegalese forward looks now back to his best after a shaky campaign last time around.

But both Ferdinand and Crouch know that class is permanent and were quick to praise Mane afterwards.

“Mane is just a nightmare for a defender to play against, awful,” Ferdinand said on BT Sport, via Metro

“He’s got everything in his locker. He can out-strength you, out-pace you.

“He’s got guile, quick feet, he’s got it all. I love watching him.”

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Crouch echoed Ferdinand’s thoughts and was especially impressed by Mane’s quick reactions to Alexander-Arnold’s shot towards goal.

“Mane for this goal is special,” he said.

“Strength, awareness, ability. I’ll be honest with you, I’m not sure if it’s a shot or a cross. But because it’s Trent I feel like you have to give him the benefit of the doubt. He’s got that in his locker.

“We did feel it was a shot but a great reaction from Mane.”

Klopp didn’t like necessary decision

It was a busy evening for referee Danny Makkelie, who booked four Atletico players and three of Liverpool’s in addition to Felipe’s red card.

Mane was one of those to see yellow for Liverpool and the visitors began to target him, which forced Klopp to protect him by withdrawing him at half-time.

The manager did not like making that decision, but believed it was necessary.

Klopp continued: “The referee was [in control] but I really hate the moment when I had to take off Sadio Mane. You could see that every challenge in the air, you don’t know what could happen. I didn’t like it but in the end, you have to do it.

“You earn a lot of money to win Champions League games! The first target was to get through this group. But we did it with two games to go.

“What can we do? We will have to see. I didn’t expect we would be through after four games but the boys did it and it’s really well deserved.”

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