Juergen Klopp hails marvellous Simon Mignolet as Liverpool close on Champions League
German singled out much-derided keeper for special praise after he stands firm in the face of a barrage to help grind out win
Juergen Klopp singled out much-derided Simon Mignolet for special praise after the goalkeeper stood firm in the face of a West Bromwich Albion barrage to help grind out a priceless 1-0 away win.
Klopp was relieved to see his Liverpool side hold on despite their failure to add a second goal to Roberto Firmino’s first-half header at The Hawthorns on Sunday.
Victory took the Reds back into third place in the Premier League, two points clear of fourth-placed Manchester City, as the scramble for places in next season’s Champions League hots up.
They were grateful for a smart save by the Belgian Mignolet from Matt Phillips late on, as well as some poor West Brom finishing, and Liverpool boss Klopp challenged his players to maintain their steely focus.
“It is one of the most difficult places to go because you can’t feel comfortable in one moment of the game,” said Klopp.
“Somebody asked which scoreline would have kept me a little calmer in the last few minutes, and I said: ‘Only 4-0 after 86 minutes’.
“Maybe then I would have thought it was done because with West Brom it’s not only set-pieces.”
Klopp praised the often-criticised Mignolet, who capped a solid all-round display to deny Phillips.
Several times in the dying minutes Mignolet resorted to punching clear high West Brom set-pieces or deliveries.
Klopp admitted it was not particularly attractive from the stopper – but it worked.
“At the end it doesn’t look that spectacular, but he was really good around the set-pieces, I think with four or five fists,” said the German, who dropped Mignolet earlier in the season.
“He was really good, on the front foot, all that stuff, and was very important again.
“We are very happy, three points today, so 66, that’s a wonderful number for the next six or seven days.
“And then we want to move onto 69. I really thought that the boys, in a really difficult game, did really well.”
West Brom manager Tony Pulis also singled out his goalkeeper Ben Foster, who raced forwards for two corners during the late push for an equaliser, almost conceding on the counter-attack to Liverpool substitute Alberto Moreno.
And he has now instructed his No 1 not to repeat the move.
“I’ve just had a chat with him. I don’t like keepers going up for corners personally but I’ve never said it to Ben. He didn’t know. He does now.” Pulis said.
“We came up against a (strong) side today, have a look at the resources they’ve got and we gave them a game.
“That’s what we want to do in every game we play. We’ve played Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool and given teams with resources way beyond our dreams a game, and that’s what I want to do.”