Mohamed Salah breaks Liverpool scoring record has the “numbers to prove” that he is an “exceptional player” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp after the Egyptian became the Champions League record goalscorer of the club at their Midtjylland draw.
Klopp’s men were already assured of the top spot coming into the game in Group D and they started in perfect fashion after just 55 seconds when forward Salah ran clear and poked home.
It was the fastest goal the team had scored in the Champions League and Salah’s strike was his 22nd in the competition, surpassing club legend Steven Gerrard, on a night of numerous records for the much-changed visitors.
“Exceptional player, absolutely exceptional player,” Klopp said of Salah. Since we have] obviously worked together a lot of things [have really clicked for us all.
He is massively helping the team and he knows and appreciates the team’s help as well. Even the incredible number of goals he got wouldn’t have been enough to be as successful as we were if we only had Mo, so thank God others also scored a lot of goals.
“That made this team pretty successful but Mo is a very exceptional player – I think nobody doubted it but if you need numbers to prove it then he delivers that as well Salah breaks Liverpool scoring record.”
Through a flicked effort and another drive from the angle, Diogo Jota’s summer signing forced Midtjylland goalkeeper Jesper Hansen into smart saves, while Divock Origi side-footed wide from an unmarked position.
As the hosts piled on the pressure in the second half, Evander rattled the crossbar with a thunderous strike and they claimed a deserved point through the confident penalty of Alexander Scholz.
With a 1-0 win at Ajax, which dropped into the Europa League, Serie A side Atalanta clinched second place in the group with a 1-0 win, while Danish champions Midtjylland finished bottom.
This season, Liverpool have been battered by injuries to key first-team players, but have made light of the situation, and a patched-up side hung on to extend their run to one loss in all competitions in their past 13 games.
That result against Atalanta was their only loss this term in the Champions League, as the six-time European champions collected four wins and a group stage draw.
Klopp took the chance to field Liverpool’s youngest starting XI for a Champions League game, captained by marauding full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, as well as featuring 19-year-old academy product Rhys Williams with progression to the knockout stages already secured.
Leighton Clarkson, also 19, began his competition debut, while French teenager Billy Koumetio finished in the second half, becoming Liverpool’s youngest player in the European Cup at 18 years and 25 days.
“Klopp added: “Having your first Champions League game is a great, wonderful thing, but a career is all about how many games you will have or how many games you will play overall.
They’re really skilled already, but they have a lot to learn and we’re going to give them time to do that. Again, they helped us a lot tonight because we were able to rest other players, which was very important and there was no alternative actually.
Goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher made a sharp stop at the near post to deny Sory Kaba and Erik Sviatchenko’s header late on but the Irishman missed out on back-to-back clean sheets in the competition by bringing down Anders Dreyer in the box, with Scholz converting the resulting penalty.
As the assistant referee initially flagged for offside, the Reds may have felt disappointed to have the spot-kick given against them but after watching the replay on the pitchside monitor, the referee awarded the penalty and subsequent replays showed Dreyer was onside.
Once again the video assistant referee played a part, denying both sides winning goals – Midtjylland for offside and Liverpool for a Sadio Mane handball – but the night belonged to Salah, who picked up a loose backpass and scuffed home early to take his score to 106 goals for Liverpool in just 170 games.