Football

Klopp hails Mane after his 100th goal for Liverpool

Senegal star scored against Palace for the ninth straight time, an EPL record

Juergen Klopp saluted Sadio Mane after the Senegal star's 100th Liverpool goal inspired a 3-0 win against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Mane's milestone strike came in his 224th appearance for the Reds, breaking Palace's rearguard action late in the first half at Anfield.

Egypt forward Mohamed Salah, who scored his 100th English Premier League goal last week, and Guinea midfielder Naby Keita netted in the second half for the Reds' fifth win from six games in all competitions this season.

It was fitting that Mane should make it to his century against Palace as he set an EPL record for the most consecutive games a player has scored against one opponent.

It was the ninth successive match that Mane had netted against Palace.

More importantly for Klopp, Mane already has three goals this term, suggesting he is ready to put last season's disappointing personal campaign behind him.

"People forget around these 100 goals, he worked incredibly hard, defended for us, pressed high, counter-pressed, created goals, set up chances. So the 100 goals are just one, there are so many numbers that are important," Klopp said.

"I am really happy for him (that) he could reach it, a massive achievement in the glorious history of this club that only 18 players scored 100 goals."

Klopp's men have opened the EPL season with an unbeaten run of four wins from five games, with just one goal conceded and 12 scored.

"We are not here today for sending any kind of sign for the outside world, we were here to fight against a really strong Crystal Palace team," he said.

"I told the boys this was one of the most hard-fought 3-0s I ever saw. I'm really pleased."

French defender Ibrahima Konate, signed from RB Leipzig in the close season, was handed his Liverpool debut as one of six changes from the midweek Champions League win over AC Milan.

Klopp switched his entire back four, with Virgil van Dijk returning, James Milner playing on the right instead of Trent Alexander-Arnold, who was unwell, and Kostas Tsimikas replacing Andy Robertson.

Initially, Liverpool seemed unsettled by Klopp's changes and Palace nearly took advantage of a defensive blunder that ended with Alisson pushing Wilfried Zaha's shot onto the post.

Diogo Jota missed a golden opportunity to break the deadlock, firing over from three metres after the ball was palmed out to him by Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.

GOALS

But Mane ended Palace's spirited resistance in the 43rd minute. Salah's header from Tsimikas' corner was saved by Guaita and Mane pounced to slam the rebound past the Spanish custodian.

Salah delivered the knockout blow in the 78th minute, slotting home at the far post after van Dijk had flicked on a corner.

Keita, on as a second-half replacement for Thiago Alcantara, put the seal on Liverpool's stroll when he volleyed in from the edge of the area in the 89th minute, a strike which Klopp labelled the most wonderful of the three goals.

The Guinean's cameo left some pundits looking forward to more of the same.

Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen told Premier League Productions: "He has not had a real clear run at Liverpool, injuries and stuff like that. I have seen him before playing like that for Leipzig, brilliant.

"I am desperate to see him do well, but he is being a slow-burner at the minute, so he has got to do more of that." - AFP

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