'Finally you are back' - Jurgen Klopp hails Sadio Mane after his Champions League hat-trick in Portugal
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes Sadio Mane has rediscovered his best form after a sensational hat-trick paved the way for a 5-0 win against FC Porto in Portugal.
Mane's uncertain form has led for calls to him to be dropped to the bench in recent weeks, but the Senegal forward answered all of his critics with a sparkling display to all-but secure Liverpool's place in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Klopp's warm embrace of Mane on the pitch at the final whistle highlighted his delight with his forward, as he offered up this glowing tribute.
"He gave the right answer," said Klopp of Mane. "I said to him after the last game (at Southampton last Sunday) 'Finally, you are back.'
"After the game we met on the pitch and tonight he showed it again. He was always important, he was always fantastic for us even in his 'not that good' moments. That's real quality.
"If you are not at 100 per cent but still involved in goals that's really important. Then it will come if you keep working really hard like he did.
"The first was a little lucky, but the other two - the second one was about being in the right place and he used his fantastic skills on the third one so it's good, really good. I'm happy about it."
Mohamed Salah became the second-fastest Liverpool player to the 30-goal landmark in the club's history - behind only George Allan whose 27 games in 1896 was seven faster.
"He played a good season, I recognise that already but it's very important for us," added Klopp "Each goal was kind of a winner. That's important tonight. We spoke a lot about Mo in the last few weeks, completely deserved.
"Sadio had his comeback tonight, and Roberto was there again after outstanding work-rate again, so it was good.
“All the midfielders were fantastic and most important the three boys up front helped us.
"Mo has played a good season, I think I recognise that already! But it’s very important for us. Each goal was kind of a winner. That’s important tonight."