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Mane: Pool deserved win for showing great resolve

Aston Villa 1 Liverpool 2

Late show: Sadio Mane flicks home Liverpool’s winner
Late show: Sadio Mane flicks home Liverpool’s winner

By Nick Mashiter

Match-winner Sadio Mane hailed the never-say-die attitude shown by Liverpool in their thrilling late comeback at Aston Villa.

The Senegal international scored a stoppage-time header as the Reds snatched a 2-1 win to cap a stunning finale for Jurgen Klopp's men.

Andrew Robertson had nodded in an 87th-minute leveller after Trezeguet's first-half opener for Villa.

The victory maintained Liverpool's unbeaten start to the season and kept them six points clear of Manchester City at the top.

"It's always going to be tough but our reaction was perfect," said Mane. "In the first half it wasn't our best performance but we just had to push hard as a team and give everything.

"That's what we tried to do and at the end we created some chances and we scored two goals.

"For sure it wasn't our best performance but we deserved the three points.

"I'm struggling to describe how happy we are. But for sure we are very happy and we deserved to win these three points, which was really important."

Liverpool have not lost in the top flight since a 2-1 defeat at Manchester City in January.

Saturday was the closest the Reds have come this season to surrendering their unbeaten start as Villa gave them a major scare.

City also came from behind to win 2-1 against Southampton ahead of their crucial trip to Anfield on Sunday.

Mane said: "We have big respect for Manchester City. They are a very good team but we are Liverpool and we are also a very good team. It will be a very interesting game and we are looking forward to it."

Villa were without captain Jack Grealish, who missed the game with a calf injury he suffered at City last week.

The midfielder is expected to return at Wolves on Sunday.

Boss Dean Smith added: "He will be fine for next week. He trained with us on Friday but woke up this morning (Saturday) and just felt he wasn't right.

"He had a little run on the pitch pre-game but I told him I wanted him to be 100 per cent because you have to be against teams like this. He wasn't, so he made the call and I certainly supported him on that."

Meanwhile, Klopp insists it will be "impossible" for Liverpool to remain undefeated for the whole Premier League season.

Arsenal are the only team to go unbeaten in a Premier League campaign.

When asked if Liverpool could match Arsenal's 'Invincible' 2003-04 campaign, Reds boss Klopp said: "It is not possible if you play like we did until we conceded the goal. It was not bad, it was actually the opposite, it was good football, but it was not the winning mentality we need.

"It is probably not possible, but we don't think about it to be honest. We think about how we can win the next game and the next game."

Klopp urged his players to learn from their mistakes at Villa Park.

He added: "We still have to learn and improve and sometimes you have to get knocks and we got knocks. For little mistakes we got knocks but in the moment we could sort it.

"It's not that we didn't deserve to win, I'm fine with the performance but there were moments I didn't like.

"We made it difficult for ourselves. We started playing football well but not exactly how we should have. Aston Villa were ready for a proper fight.

"We conceded a goal and it's not so easy to change this wrong path immediately.

"When you watch the game one team deserved to win and it's us. I can imagine how bad Aston Villa will feel, with all they did they will have deserved something."

According to reports, Liverpool have decided they'd rather sign RB Leipzig star Timo Werner at the end of the season, rather than in January.

The Germany international has been linked with a move to the Premier League in recent times amid his fine form in the Bundesliga, where he's scored nine goals in 10 appearances so far this season.

Liverpool would like to strengthen their attack and have long admired Werner, with Klopp a huge admirer.

With the January transfer window creeping closer, talk of the Merseyside giants making a move for the Leipzig star is gathering momentum.

Liverpool would rather sign him at the end of the season instead. That's reportedly because they're happy with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino as their current strike force.

The trio all have great chemistry and starred as Liverpool won the Champions League last season. And their fine form has also propelled Klopp's side to the Premier League summit.

Belfast Telegraph


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