Jurgen Klopp heaped praise on Takumi Minamino for his performance in Liverpool’s thumping 7-0 victory over Crystal Palace and said the Japanese – who played in attack at Selhurst Park – was smiling from ear to ear in the dressing room after the win.
Minamino has struggled for regular playing time since his move from RB Salzburg to Liverpool back in January but the 25-year-old was handed a rare start for the Premier League leaders on Saturday afternoon, on the left of a front-three alongside Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
The Japan international will have been desperate to make an impression and did just that as he got his name on the scoresheet after only three minutes, firing an unstoppable strike past Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.
Mane, Roberto Firmino (2), Jordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah (2) also netted to complete the rout and a delighted Klopp raved about Minamino’s display when talking to the media at his post-match press conference.
Asked whether today’s performance proves Minamino is more effective in attack rather than midfield Klopp replied: ‘We want to use Taki and, if you play for us in midfield, you need offensive skills as well so it means Taki can play there.
‘He played twice and played good and, even more important, in training he looked really sharp, in good shape and that’s why he played today.
‘He played a top game today, nice finish. It’s a good moment and that’s what we want to use.
‘I saw him in the dressing room just now and he couldn’t avoid smiling all over his face so it’s a good moment.
‘He’s in a really good place and it helps us a lot.’
Klopp was pleased with the way his players ‘controlled’ the game as the Reds went six points clear of second-placed Tottenham at the top of the table.
On Liverpool’s overall performance, Klopp said: ‘It was exceptional .
‘Football can be like this where your opponent has opportunities in the first half through counter-attacking.
‘Naby Keita has not played for a while so was not totally clear. We changed it so Georginio Wijnaldum switched to that side and it was better then.
‘We scored wonderful goals in the first half and even more so in the second half.
‘We lost the ball in the wrong moments. That is why they had chances on the counter-attack. That is normal.
‘Wilfried Zaha is a good player. Finishing-wise I will not even try. The boys can score nice goals but not always seven!’