Jurgen Klopp said qualification for League of champions the knockout stage should never be taken for granted after Liverpool secured passage by comfortably beating Dutch champions Ajax in the end.
Liverpool advanced from their group for the sixth consecutive season with a game in hand thanks to goals from Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and Harvey Elliott in Amsterdam. Ajax were the better team until Salah opened the scoring with his 40th European goal Liverpool and Klopp, full of praise for his side’s tactical response, insisted reaching the last 16 was something to savour.
The Liverpool manager said: “Nobody should ever take qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League for granted. We did it again in a game that started out very difficult and that makes the victory even sweeter. Ajax they are a really good team and we beat them twice. They were the better team for the first 35 minutes, they were more solid than us, which is good because again we changed a bit and pressed in a different way and we had to get used to it.
“We went through it, in one situation we got lucky and in another we had a good block and then we scored a goal which was brilliant and the next situation was a sensational moment of football but unfortunately we hit the post. Then we scored two goals in the second half and controlled the game. We are very happy to reach the 1/16 finals. It’s great.”
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, who set up Salah’s first goal with a superb pass, was forced off with a knee injury late on, but Klopp believes the problem is not serious. “I was worried because it was in front of me,” he said. “But it was a knee on the knee so hurt, a bruise, but as far as I know now, nothing more. He should be fine.”
Klopp admitted he would have been satisfied with just the draw Liverpool needed to qualify. But he added: “I’m not sure if it’s better to fly through a game that everyone would enjoy or to push through and get better like we did today. It stays with us. If we had drawn 0-0 and gone through, I wouldn’t have been able to, but we did it, winning 3-0 and scoring some great goals.”