Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said that defender Virgil van Dijk was “outstandingly good” following his match-winning display against Brighton on Saturday.
Van Dijk scored both his side’s goals in a quickfire six-minute spell as the hosts dominated until the final 10 minutes, when Alisson was sent off and Lewis Dunk’s free-kick set up a nervy finish.
But after the relief of the final whistle – when the plaudits went to the Dutchman for a typically commanding display – Klopp was keen to share the praise.
“[Van Dijk] scored two goals – that’s the story itself. He’s good, really good, outstandingly good – but he has to be [because] he’s a very talented boy. He just has to use that talent and it would be a shame if he doesn’t.
“So yes, he’s incredibly important but if Virgil played the last line alone it would be pretty difficult.”
“I think Dejan Lovren, who maybe doesn’t get the headlines like this, with what he’s playing, he has all my respect.”
Klopp also praised his midfield, which had to adapt following the absence of Fabinho due to an ankle injury.
“We had to replace Fabinho, which is a tough one. Hendo [Jordan Henderson] played a sensational game in that position together with Gini [Wijnaldum] and Ox [Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain].
“It was a really good performance but we had to work really hard. And what I liked most, is that the boys were ready to do that. They didn’t think, ‘Brighton is coming, they have 15 points, so they cannot be that good’.”
Liverpool‘s win sent them 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League following Manchester City’s draw with Newcastle earlier on Saturday.
The Reds return to action on Wednesday when they host Everton at Anfield looking to extend their unbeaten run in the league to 32 games.
As for Everton, the trip to Anfield is one of a number of tough games over the Christmas period, including Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.
Liverpool had Divock Origi to thank against the Toffees at Anfield last season, his 96th-minute header giving Liverpool the three points.