Klopp heaps praise on Henderson and Keita
Liverpool manager pleased as midfield duo contribute to 2-0 win over Porto
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp hailed the performance of his skipper Jordan Henderson in yesterday morning's (Singapore time) 2-0 Champions League win over Porto, with the England midfielder delivering another impressive display in a more advanced role.
Henderson recently said he had been badgering Klopp to allow him more freedom to break into the final third and, after scoring as a second-half substitute at Southampton on Friday, he started in yesterday's Champions League quarter-final, first leg at Anfield and delivered a killer pass for Liverpool's second goal.
"Hendo is a brilliant player. He obviously likes the position. We've not used him there for 3.5 years - sorry about that!" said Klopp with a grin.
"I'm glad he can show it. There were a lot of good individual performances."
Henderson has often played in a defensive midfield role but, with Fabinho taking care of that responsibility, he is now able to push into advanced areas.
The 28-year-old certainly provided some assistance to the front three of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, with his harrying and pressing helping maintain pressure on the Porto defence.
Yet his defence-splitting pass to Trent Alexander-Arnold, which set up Firmino's goal to make it 2-0, showed he is much more than just a midfield workhorse.
Klopp was also pleased with the performance of midfielder Naby Keita, whom he said had delivered his most complete display for the club since his close-season move from RB Leipzig.
Keita, 24, gave Liverpool the lead in the fifth minute, when his shot was deflected off Porto midfielder Oliver Torres and beat goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
"Naby was really, really good. He got better minute by minute last game and he continued that," said the German.
"The goal was brilliant, I loved it. It was deflected yes but, the situation, how we did it, that was the half-space we wanted to use.
"The boys did that really well, it was a really good performance."
Defender Virgil van Dijk was also delighted for the Guinean midfielder, who got on to the scoresheet for the second game in a row.
"He's a fantastic player. We see it day in, day out," the centre-half told the club's website.
"I'm just very happy for him that he's starting. To score two goals in the last two games is very pleasing for him, but very important for all of us. I'm very happy for him."
Klopp also added that, despite their two-goal advantage, the Reds will have to prepare to fight when they travel to northern Portugal next week for the second leg to ensure they advance to the semi-finals.
"We are happy, it is the first leg and it will be an intense second game," Klopp told BT Sport.
"We scored two goals and controlled the ball most of the time.
"We gave too many set-pieces away. Porto score about 40 per cent of their goals from set-pieces. We also saw one or two counter-attacks but, the rest of the game, we played really well.
"We lost a little bit of direction in the second half, but there's nothing to criticise, 2-0 is a very, very good result.
"We knew we had to play the second game and we cannot decide the tie tonight.
"So, now, we have to go there and fight again." - AFP, REUTERS
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