Super-Sub Coutinho Caps Villa Revival To Frustrate Man Utd

Aston Villa's Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho (L) scores their second goal past Manchester United's Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Manchester Utd at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on January 15, 2022. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP
Aston Villa’s Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho (L) scores their second goal past Manchester United’s Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Manchester Utd at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on January 15, 2022. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Philippe Coutinho made a dream debut for Aston Villa as the Brazil star’s late equaliser capped a thrilling fightback from two goals down against Manchester United in Saturday’s 2-2 draw.

Four years after he last played in the Premier League with Liverpool, Coutinho made an instant impact on his return to England following his loan move from Barcelona this week.

Coutinho came off the bench midway through the second half with Villa trailing 2-0 after Bruno Fernandes’s double for United.

The 29-year-old provided the assist for Jacob Ramsey to give Villa hope with 13 minutes left.

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Coutinho then converted Ramsey’s cross five minutes later to ensure Steven Gerrard’s side made amends for their FA Cup third round exit at United on Monday.

Coutinho suffered a disappointing time at Barcelona, but Gerrard was confident he could bring the forward back to his best after playing with him at Liverpool.

The early returns look promising, although United will be kicking themselves for letting the game get away.

United have now gone two league matches without victory after losing to Wolves in their previous top-flight game.

With United languishing in seventh place, there will be fresh questions about interim boss Ralf Rangnick.

Rangnick had already endured reports that United’s players were unimpressed with his coaching methods and his backroom staff.

This collapse will hardly ease the gloom around United, with their late meltdown taking the gloss of Fernandes’s return to form.

Fernandes owed his first goal to a howler from Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, who let his free-kick spill into the net.

The Portugal playmaker’s second goal was the kind of eye-catching finish that made his name when he arrived at United from Sporting Lisbon in January 2020.

But United couldn’t hold the lead in another blow to their bid to qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top four finish.

United in disarray

Cristiano Ronaldo was absent from the United squad after the Portugal star was unable to train on Friday due to the hip flexor injury that also forced him to miss Monday’s FA Cup tie.

United made the perfect start thanks to Martinez’s blunder in the sixth minute.

Fernandes’ 25-yard free-kick left Martinez red-faced as the Villa keeper got both hands on the ball, only to let it drop through his legs and trickle over the line.

Martinez may have been slightly unsighted by United striker Edinson Cavani as he stretched to make contact with the set-piece, but it was still a horrendous mistake.

The former Arsenal keeper partially redeemed himself when he charged off his line to block Mason Greenwood’s close-range effort.

Alex Telles tested Martinez’s nerves with a swerving free-kick, but this time he saved well.

David De Gea preserved United’s lead with an instinctive save from Emiliano Buendia’s thumping header.

Lucas Digne made his Villa debut after signing from Everton this week and the French left-back was denied a dream start when De Gea turned away his rasping strike.

De Gea plunged to his right to keep out Ramsey’s low drive after his exchange of passes with Morgan Sanson carved open United’s defence.

United doubled their lead in the 67th minute when Fred seized on Sanson’s wayward pass and fed Fernandes, who blasted a ferocious finish into the roof of the net from 12 yards.

But Coutinho came off the bench moments later to completely change the tone of the match.

It was Coutinho whose incisive pass found Ramsey in the United area, giving the midfielder the chance to fire past De Gea from close-range in the 77th minute.

With Villa Park rocking and United suddenly in disarray, Coutinho raised the roof five minutes later.

Ramsey returned the favour with a perfectly-weighted cross that evaded the United defence and gave Coutinho a simple tap-in at the far post.

 

AFP

Barcelona’s Coutinho Out For Three Months

Barcelona's Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho reacts after falling during the Spanish League football match between Barcelona and Eibar at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on December 29, 2020. Pau BARRENA / AFP
Barcelona’s Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho reacts after falling during the Spanish League football match between Barcelona and Eibar at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on December 29, 2020. Pau BARRENA / AFP

 

Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho has undergone left knee surgery and will be sidelined for “around three months,” the club revealed on Saturday.

The 28-year-old Brazilian required the operation to mend a torn meniscus after he limped off the pitch late in Tuesday’s home draw with Eibar.

That 1-1 stalemate left Ronald Koeman’s side in sixth in La Liga, 10 points behind leaders Atletico Madrid.

Coutinho, who joined Barcelona three years ago from Liverpool but was loaned to Bayern Munich last season, joins Koeman’s list of long-term absentees which includes Ansu Fati and Gerard Pique, both also sidelined with knee injuries.

 

AFP

Coutinho Hits Hat-Trick As Bayern Rout Werder Bremen

Bayern Munich’s Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho (2ndR) is congratulated after he scored a goal during the UEFA Champions League Group B football match between Bayern Munich and Tottenham FC on December 11, 2019 in Munich, Germany. Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

 

Philippe Coutinho scored a hat-trick as Bayern Munich thrashed Werder Bremen 6-1 in the Bundesliga on Saturday, ending a run of back-to-back defeats in Germany. 

The Brazil international equalised in the 45th minute at the Allianz Arena before Robert Lewandowski put Bayern ahead in first-half stoppage time.

Coutinho added a third on the hour and Lewandowski bagged his league-leading 18th goal before Thomas Mueller made it 5-1.

Coutinho completed his hat-trick 12 minutes from time as Bayern moved back to within four points of leaders Borussia Moenchengladbach, who travel to Wolfsburg on Sunday.

Borussia Dortmund closed to within two points of Gladbach following a 4-0 victory at Mainz, while second-placed RB Leipzig visit Fortuna Dusseldorf in Saturday’s late game.

AFP

Champions League Is A Goal, Says Coutinho Ahead Of Bayern Match

Bayern Munich’s Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho attends a training session on the eve of the UEFA Champions League Group B football match between FC Bayern Munich and Red Star Belgrade (Crvena zvezda) in Munich, southern Germany, on September 17, 2019. Christof STACHE / AFP

 

As Bayern Munich launch their Champions League campaign against Red Star Belgrade on Wednesday night, Bavarian hopes of reclaiming European club football’s top prize rest to a large extent on the shoulders of Philippe Coutinho.

Following seven semi-final appearances in the last decade, the former Liverpool midfielder has been hailed as the man who can take Bayern the extra step in European football’s flagship competition this season.

Last season’s defeat to Liverpool in the last 16 sparked fears that Bayern’s Champions League aura was fading.

The departure of veteran stars such as Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben seemed to confirm the end of an era, but Coutinho’s arrival on loan from Barcelona has prompted fresh hope that Bayern can be restored as one of the continent’s most feared sides.

“There are always big expectations at Bayern and of course the Champions League is a goal,” said Coutinho at his unveiling in August.

Many believe that the 27-year-old can inspire Bayern to their first Champions League title since 2013.

Earlier this month, his Brazil team-mate and Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson told German newspaper Bild that Coutinho’s arrival put Bayern among the title favourites this season.

Fellow Bayern midfielder Corentin Tolisso echoed that sentiment in an interview with Sky last month, saying that the loan signings of Coutinho and Croatian winger Ivan Perisic would be decisive for Bayern.

“Before those two arrived, we didn’t necessarily have a team that was capable of winning the treble,” said Tolisso.

“With this team, we can go very far in the Champions League. I think the title is possible.”

Such expectations could weigh heavy on Coutinho, who is looking to reboot his career after struggling to hold down a first-team spot in a year and a half at Barcelona.

His price tag is also a potential burden. Though Bayern paid a loan fee of just 8.5 million euros ($9.5m) to secure his services, German media estimate Coutinho’s wages at around 13 million euros a year after tax, which would make him the highest-paid player in the Bayern dressing room.

“Those things don’t bother me. I want to enjoy being on the pitch, play in big games and win titles. The numbers are just a side note for me,” Coutinho told Sport Bild magazine last week.

 ‘Similar to England’ 

The Brazilian has charmed the Munich press so far, promising to learn German and speaking in glowing terms of the welcome he has received at Bayern.

He told Sport Bild that he hoped to emulate the sort of form which once made him a fan favourite at Liverpool.

“I have noticed in my first few games for Bayern that football here is very intense like it is in England. Much more so than in Spain and Brazil. That is good for me,” he said.

Coutinho even claimed he could imagine staying longer at Bayern if the club were to win the Champions League this season.

“That is a big dream for me, similar to winning the World Cup,” he said.

Yet it remains early days for Coutinho, who has made just one start for Bayern in three Bundesliga appearances so far.

He played just 10 minutes in last Saturday’s 1-1 draw at RB Leipzig, with Thomas Mueller preferred in the starting line-up.

Coach Niko Kovac insisted that Coutinho needed time to recover after returning from Brazil following the international break.

“He only had 72 hours recovery time. He will definitely play in the next few games,” said Kovac.

For Coutinho, it seems, the season starts for real on Wednesday against Red Star Belgrade.

AFP

Coutinho Will Not Start For Bayern On Saturday – Kovac

Bayern Munich’s new Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho poses for pictures with fans after a training session at the team’s training ground in Munich, southern Germany on August 20, 2019.
Christof STACHE / AFP

 

Brazilian star midfielder Philippe Coutinho will not make his first Bundesliga start when Bayern Munich travel to Schalke on Saturday, said coach Niko Kovac Thursday. 

Coutinho, 27, has been the talk of Germany since joining Bayern on a one-year loan deal from Barcelona earlier this week.

Yet at a press conference on Thursday, Kovac confirmed the Brazilian would begin his first game as a Bayern player on the bench.

“He is not quite at the level of fitness he needs to play for 90 minutes,” said Kovac.

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“He has said that himself, and we don’t want to take any risks. He has only been training for the last two weeks, so he needs to catch up,” he added, but confirmed Coutinho would be in the matchday squad.

“I know a lot of people want us to play him straight away, but everything has to be right.”

Kovac said Bayern’s other new attacking signing, Croatia winger Ivan Perisic, could make the starting eleven against Schalke.

“Ivan is much further along, he started training at the same time as we did, and played several games for Inter Milan in pre-season,” he said.

Bayern are under pressure to pick up three points against David Wagner’s Schalke side, having been held to a draw in their opening Bundesliga game against Hertha Berlin last week.

AFP

Bayern Munich Offer Coutinho Fresh Start On Loan

Bayern Munich’s Croatian headcoach Niko Kovac (C) poses with his new recruits Bayern Munich’s French midfielder Mickael Cuisance (L) and Bayern Munich’s Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho prior to a training session at the team’s training ground in Munich, southern Germany on August 20, 2019. Christof STACHE / AFP

 

Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho has joined Bayern Munich on a one-year loan worth 8.5 million euros ($9.5 million) with an option to buy, the Spanish club confirmed Monday.

“The agreement provides for an option for Bayern to buy at a 120-million-euro fee,” Barcelona said.

The 27-year-old Brazilian joined Barcelona from Liverpool in January 2018 for an initial 120 million euros in a deal that included another 40 million euros in potential add-ons.

But the international midfielder’s stint at Barcelona never worked out as hoped despite huge excitement around his arrival at the Camp Nou.

Initially tried in midfield where he plays for Brazil, Coutinho was pushed into the front three by Ernesto Valverde last season but the switch never paid off and fans rarely glimpsed the form he showed at Liverpool.

“Coutinho: the story of a massive disaster,” headlined Monday’s Barcelona-based Sport newspaper.

Speculation about his future had shadowed Coutinho over the summer with French champions Paris Saint-Germain mentioned as a likely destination in a deal linked to a potential Neymar return to Barcelona.

Coutinho’s place in the side looked shaky following the arrival of French World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann from Atletico in July and he was left out of the squad for the first game of the new La Liga season on Friday, a 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao.

The player, who has scored 21 goals in 75 games for Barca in all competitions despite being unsettled, said he was delighted with the move to Germany.

“For me, this move means a new challenge in a new country with one of the best clubs in Europe,” Coutinho said on Bayern’s website.

“I’m very much looking forward to that. Like FC Bayern, I have big ambitions and I’m convinced that I can achieve them together with my new teammates.”

The German club hope he will provide reinforcement in attack following the departure of veteran duo Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery at the end of last season.

“With his creativity and outstanding skills, Philippe is a player who will immediately strengthen our attack,” Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.

AFP

Coutinho Starts For Barcelona In Champions League Clash Against Lyon

Coutinho Starts For Barcelona In Champions League Clash Against Lyon
Barcelona’s new Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho poses for a picture in Barcelona on January 7, 2018. Josep LAGO / AFP

 

Philippe Coutinho will start for Barcelona in their Champions League last 16-second leg clash at the Camp Nou with Lyon on Wednesday.

Coutinho, the world’s third most expensive player, has been struggling for form and was whistled off by a minority of Barca fans when substituted during their 3-1 win over Rayo Vallecano at the weekend.

He takes his place alongside Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi up front ahead of Ousmane Dembele, who was only deemed fit enough for the bench after picking up a minor hamstring strain against Rayo.

Nabil Fekir returns for Lyon, who held Barcelona to a goalless draw in the first leg, after serving a suspension while defender Marcelo is also back after shaking off a thigh injury.

Starting line-ups for the Champions League last 16, second leg between Barcelona and Lyon at the Camp Nou on Wednesday (kick-off 2000 GMT):

Barcelona (4-3-3)

Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Arthur Melo; Lionel Messi (capt), Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho

Coach: Ernesto Valverde (ESP)

Lyon (4-3-3)

Anthony Lopes; Leo Dubois, Jason Denayer, Marcelo, Ferland Mendy; Tanguy Ndombele, Lucas Tousart, Fernando Marcal; Moussa Dembele, Nabil Fekir (capt), Memphis Depay

Coach: Bruno Genesio (FRA)

Referee: Szymon Marciniak (POL)

AFP

Coutinho Penalty Gives Barca Hope Despite Cup Defeat To Levante

Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho scores from the penalty spot on Thursday. Photo: REUTERS/Heino Kalis

 

Philippe Coutinho scored a crucial away goal but Barcelona have work to do to avoid a surprise exit from the Copa del Rey after losing 2-1 to Levante on Thursday in the first leg of the last 16. 

Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Marc Andre ter Stegen were among several key players rested at the City of Valencia Stadium, where Levante took advantage as Erick Cabaco and Borja Mayoral gave them a two-goal cushion.

Coutinho, however, making his first start in almost a month, converted an 85th-minute penalty to leave Barca in touch heading into next week’s second leg at the Camp Nou.

After missing much of November through injury, Coutinho has struggled to regain his place in Ernesto Valverde’s preferred starting line-up but 90 minutes, and a goal, will have done his confidence no harm.

“When (Ousmane) Dembele didn’t play, everyone asked about him, now Coutinho doesn’t play, it’s the reverse,” Valverde said afterwards. “When you don’t play and you aren’t happy, you have to fight to change things.”

Valverde was blamed last season for Barca’s shock Champions Leaue exit, the theory being that he failed to rest key players in the Copa del Rey and La Liga, both of which they won.

He seems keener to adjust this term as a much-changed line-up included a debut for central defender Jeison Murillo, a January loan signing from Valencia, as well as youngsters like Chumi Brandariz, Juan Miranda and Carles Alena.

This was a difficult introduction, however, with Murillo beaten for Levante’s second goal while Miranda was replaced at half-time and Chumi followed 13 minutes later.

The front three were more established, as Ousmane Dembele, Malcom and Coutinho aimed to make up for the absence of a recognised striker.

Instead, Levante took the lead after just 185 seconds as Ruben Rochina’s in-swinging cross from the left met the head of Cabaco, who climbed above Sergio Busquets and headed in.

Barca were struggling to cope with the aggression of their opponents and in the 18th minute, they were two down. Emmanuel Boateng’s reverse pass set Borja free, who nipped between Murillo and Chumi.

Murillo tried to make the block but Borja’s shot beat both him and Jasper Cillessen, before nestling in the far corner.

Levante could have made it three but Borja fired wide and Jose Luis Morales, who only had Cillessen to beat, scooped his finish over the bar.

Valverde had turned to his bench as Sergi Roberto and Clement Lenglet came on for Miranda and Chumi while Denis Suarez, linked with a move away from the club this month, was given 23 minutes to instigate a comeback.

He did the job, a weaving run inside from the right drawing a clumsy challenge from Coke. Coutinho made no mistake.

Earlier, Sevilla put one foot in the quarter-finals after winning 3-1 away to Athletic Bilbao.

Mikel San Jose pulled Bilbao level at San Mames after Nolito’s opener but second-half goals from Andre Silva and Wissam Ben Yedder mean Sevilla will be strong favourites to go through.

AFP

Injured Coutinho Out For Two Weeks – Barcelona

 Barcelona’s new Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho poses for a picture in Barcelona on January 7, 2018. Josep LAGO / AFP

 

Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho has a muscle tear and will be out for two to three weeks, the Spanish La Liga giants said Thursday.

“Tests undertaken on Thursday morning have confirmed that Philippe Coutinho has a small rupture in the femoral biceps of his left leg,” Barcelona said.

“He will be out for approximately two to three weeks.”

AFP

Coutinho In Barcelona To Tie Up Third-richest Transfer

Photo: Liverpoolfc.com

Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho was in Barcelona Sunday to tie up a 160-million-euro ($192 million) move from Liverpool, the third-richest deal of all time.

“Bem-vindo! Welcome! Benvingut! ¡Bienvenido!” Barca tweeted to Coutinho along with a waving hand sign and a video showing a shirt bearing his name in a locker.

Spanish league leaders Barca host Levante on Sunday at Camp Nou, but Coutinho will not be in the stands.

“He will not be attending the match,” a club source told AFP.

According to Catalan daily Sport, current La Liga leaders Barca want attention turned solely on the Levante match and not their new recruit, who should be officially presented to media on Monday.

The swoop for the 25-year-old attacking midfielder — which contains a 400-million-euro release clause — is the third biggest transfer in football.

It is outranked only by Paris Saint-Germain’s world record 222m-euro signing of Neymar from Barcelona last year, and PSG’s capture of French striker Kylian Mbappe for a deal that will eventually be worth 180 million euros.

Rio-born Coutinho arrived at Liverpool from Inter Milan for a mere £8.5 million in January 2013 and scored 54 goals for the club in all competitions, although he won no silverware during his five-year stay at Anfield.

Barcelona had tried to sign him in the summer and his departure now is a blow to Liverpool as the playmaker has just returned to top form after an injury-hit start to the season, scoring six goals in the last seven games of 2017 to put his side firmly in the Champions League places.

“It is with great reluctance that we -– as a team and club –- prepare to say farewell to a good friend, a wonderful person and a fantastic player in Philippe Coutinho,” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

“It is no secret that Philippe has wanted this move to happen since July, when Barcelona first made their interest known.

“Philippe was insistent with me, the owners and even his teammates this was a move he was desperate to make happen.”

For Barcelona, Coutinho’s signing will allow the club to move on from the bitter experience of losing his Brazil teammate Neymar to Qatar-backed PSG last summer.

Coutinho’s age is highly attractive to Barca, whose three main stars, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta are all in their thirties. Iniesta, at 33, has shown signs of fatigue this season.

– ‘What will he gain?’ –

French media group beIN Sports reported late Saturday that Liverpool will immediately spend 55 million euros of their windfall on Leicester striker Riyad Mahrez.

They claimed Mahrez will have a medical at Liverpool on Sunday before penning a four-year contract.

Reports in England though said Liverpool’s main target to replace Coutinho is Monaco forward Thomas Lemar, who Arsenal tried to sign before the season.

Coutinho played no role in Liverpool’s 2-1 victory over city rivals Everton in the FA Cup on Friday. Liverpool’s winning goal was scored by Virgil Van Dijk, the Dutch defender they signed last week from Southampton for £75 million, one of the biggest deals in history.

Former Liverpool defender Phil Thompson said his old club had probably got the better deal and questioned Coutinho’s decision to join Barca now because he will not be able to play in the Champions League for them this season having already appeared for Liverpool. Both clubs are in the last 16 of the competition.

“It’s hard to get my head around what Philippe is going to gain because he can’t play Champions League football for them, they are running away with the league, and he’s got the World Cup at the end of the season,” Thompson said on Sky Sports.

“Will he play regularly every week at Barcelona? I’m not too sure. Philippe could have carried on (at Liverpool). He could have been playing in the Champions League.”

AFP

Liverpool Must Act Quickly To Replace Coutinho – Aldridge

Photo: Liverpoolfc

Liverpool legend John Aldridge on Sunday urged the club to move quickly to replace playmaker Philippe Coutinho, who has swapped the Premier League giants for Barcelona.

The 25-year-old Brazil international headed to Spain on Saturday after Liverpool accepted a British record bid of 160 million euros ($192 million) from the Catalan club — the third biggest deal in football history.

“I am not surprised but disappointed he (Coutinho) is leaving because he is a fantastic player to watch,” Aldridge told BBC Radio 5 Live. “£140 million is a lot of money and Liverpool have to spend it wisely.

“They have spent £75 million of it wisely on Virgil van Dijk — a player we have needed for some time in a leader at the back — but he (Coutinho) needs replacing and we have got to do it” as soon as possible.

Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez, a key player for the Foxes when they won the Premier League in 2016, has been linked to the club.

And Aldridge believes the Algeria international must be considered.

“If you look at the way Coutinho plays, he (Mahrez) is very similar,” Aldridge added. “He is older, he has played in the Premier League for some years and everybody has seen the ability he has got, so he ticks a lot of boxes.

“You need that type of player similar to Coutinho who sees that pass, can do something extraordinary outside the box, can bend it in the top corner and is good on free-kicks as well.”

Rio-born Coutinho arrived at Anfield from Inter Milan for £8.5 million ($11.5 million, 9.5 million euros) in January 2013 and scored 54 goals for the club in all competitions, although he won no silverware during his five-year stay.

Barcelona had tried to sign him in the summer — his departure is a blow to Liverpool as the playmaker has just returned to top form after an injury-hit start to the season.

Capturing Coutinho allows Barcelona to move on from the bitter experience of losing his Brazil teammate Neymar last summer to Paris Saint-Germain.

Coutinho is expected to watch his new team host Levante on Sunday at Camp Nou.

AFP

Klopp Dismisses Renewed Talk On Coutinho’s Sale

Jurgen Klopp insists Philippe Coutinho was genuinely injured for Liverpool’s 2-1 win at Burnley as he laughed off talk of Brazil forward joining Barcelona.

Coutinho missed Monday’s Premier League fixture at Turf Moor with a thigh injury amid a backdrop of speculation over a move to the Nou Camp in the January transfer window.

The rumours were fuelled further by pictures – subsequently removed – of a Barcelona shirt with Coutinho’s name appearing on the website of Nike, the Catalan club’s kit manufacturer, over the weekend.

However, Reds boss Klopp claims there was nothing untoward behind the 25-year-old’s absence from Liverpool’s squad at Turf Moor as he responded to questions about the Nike pictures.

“I heard about it. Somebody told me and I thought ‘wow’. But I couldn’t be less interested in anything in the world!” Klopp said.

“Him (Coutinho) and Mohamed (Salah) are injured, not massively but enough for today, no chance and at least a doubt for Everton.”

Despite Coutinho and Salah’s absences, Estonia defender Ragnar Klavan scored a dramatic stoppage-time winner for Liverpool after Johann Berg Gudmundsson had cancelled out Sadio Mane’s opener.

And Klopp was most satisfied with the fortitude shown by his defence on a day when they might have wilted against a dogged Burnley side.

“I am really happy about our attitude and character,” Klopp said.

“You need to win your average games, win with attitude when you are not 100 percent.

“Burnley were an opponent motivated at the highest level. We needed to be ready for the wind, rain.

“It was cold and you need first of all concentration, you need readiness to work really hard, organisation, discipline and a little bit of luck. We deserved the three points.

“We need the wins on the not sunny days. It was a fantastic moment when we scored. I was never in doubt about the character of my boys.”

– ‘Important’ Mane –

Mane’s goal was his eighth of the season and Klopp praised the Senegal winger for his determination when Liverpool’s top players were missing.

“Sadio is unbelievably important for us,” Klopp said.

“He is strong, quick, so many things. He scores a goal like this and it is like ‘wow!’. He comes into the dressing room and the whole team gives him a hand.

“We need him, we need him so much for all teams coming. I am happy because I had a lot of players with moments where it wasn’t clicking and he still scores.”

Klopp also confirmed he will show respect by allowing Mane and Egypt forward Salah to attend an awards ceremony in Ghana this week.

The Liverpool duo are to appear at the CAF Awards on Thursday, just 24 hours before the FA Cup third round tie with Everton at Anfield.

“Yes, they will go. We have everything organised. We have two of the three best African players in our squad. We have to show them respect,” said the German.

“If it had been a matchday they wouldn’t have asked, but the night before is fine. We sleep in a hotel, they sleep in a plane. That is all the difference, the modern world.

“If Mo is not fit, it will not be for that. For our side, it is just a sign of respect.

“I know it, I had Aubameyang too, and there is nothing more important for them than to go there. It’s fine.”

Burnley manager Sean Dyche revealed his frustration with the result but could not fault the effort of his players.

“I thought we had done enough to earn another point,” he said.

“So I am frustrated with a soft goal right at the end but impressed with the mentality overall.

“We were superb physically, tactically very good, particularly defensively so much to be pleased with but to lose like that is a horrible feeling.

AFP