Liverpool’s 2-0 victory over Manchester United on Thursday was payback for the fans, manager Juergen Klopp said after his side produced a commanding display to down their fiercest rivals in the Europa League.
Klopp’s team ran out comfortable winners in the first leg of their last 16 clash at Anfield and would have inflicted a more embarrassing defeat on United but for a string of brilliant saves from David De Gea.
In a simmering atmosphere, the hosts took a stranglehold on the tie with an authoritative performance that was, according to their German coach, like watching the dominant Liverpool sides of old.
The show, he said, was a reward for supporters who had endured inconsistency since Klopp took charge in October.
“It was a great atmosphere, I am so pleased for all of the people who have had harder times with us this season,” Klopp said. “Tonight was the first part of paying them back.
“The atmosphere was unbelievable, really great, and I want to say thank you to everyone involved. That was Liverpool how I knew it before I came here.”
Five-time European champions Liverpool have hit a patch of good form in recent weeks with Thursday’s victory coming on the back of three successive wins in the Premier League.
Their season, however, has been marked by erratic displays with superb victories over Manchester City, home and away, and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge being offset by frustrating defeats by Crystal Palace, Watford and Newcastle United.
Liverpool took the lead after 20 minutes when Daniel Sturridge scored from the penalty spot following a foul by Memphis Depay on Nathaniel Clyne.
They would have extended their advantage but for De Gea, who stood as a one-man barrier in the United goal, producing top-drawer saves to deny Sturridge, Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho, on two occasions.
The Spanish goalkeeper, however, could do nothing to prevent Roberto Firmino doubling the lead in the 73rd minute with a close-range finish.
“We were really good from the first second, everything was there but we could have scored more,” Klopp said.
“That sounds crazy I know but we had the chances. In the end, 2-0, if you said this before the game, of course I take it.”
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