Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said his team proved ‘the club is back where it belongs’ on the grandest European stage after their emphatic win over Bayern Munich.
Klopp did not disguise the magnitude of the 3-1 victory, suggesting the calibre of opponent made it one of the statement triumphs of his reign.
“It is a big night,” said Klopp. “We set the bar for Liverpool, for this wonderful club,that we really are back on an international landscape of top football. We all think that is where the club belongs and I am really happy about the result. I knew we had a chance and the boys made it happen and that is brilliant, absolutely brilliant.
“There are some places in world football, whichever team, whether it is Man City, Real Madrid and Barcelona that comes here, where you do not expect to win. It is a tough place to come. We kept them away from our goal. My impression is there were not too many difficult situations around our box. You have to find different ways and we found them. It makes me really proud and happy because I really think this club deserves awareness again. We are back. It is so good. Let’s carry on.”
The maturity of a controlled second-half performance especially thrilled Klopp. Liverpool’s success even prompted club owner John W. Henry into rare social media activity, as he retweeted a fans’ tribute to Virgil van Dijk.
“75 per cent of the earth is covered by water. The other 25 per cent is covered by Virgil van Dijk,” read the slogan.
Klopp agreed with the sentiment.
“I could write a book about his skills, strength, how much I like him and what a fantastic person he is; so young, so mature, so strong,” said Klopp.
“Virgil knows he can play better, that we can play better, but in the second half we played as good as possible and necessary in a place like this. It is so important to stay in the game at times and answer all the questions.”
Liverpool’s only concern is a twisted ankle suffered by captain Jordan Henderson, although the initial diagnosis was more positive.
A late booking for Andy Robertson means the full-back will miss the first leg of the quarter-final, which now has four English clubs.
On a night were Liverpool had many outstanding performers, Klopp also paid tribute to Sadio Mane, scorer of the first goal.
“His quality and importance is so obvious I don’t really have to speak about it,” said Klopp.
“Remind me after the season is over and I sing my own song about him if necessary – he’s in a good moment, let me say it like this – long may it continue.”
This was also a sweet return for Klopp, beaten in the Champions League final by Bayern when Borussia Dortmund coach in 2013.
“I am not like this, that losing with Dortmund makes it sweeter for me – it’s not sweeter for me because it’s Bayern,” he said.
“It doesn’t bring back better results from the time when we lost. I wanted to win for Liverpool, not to beat Bayern. It’s just a good moment for Liverpool and let’s enjoy that.”