For Jurgen Klopp, there was no hiding his delight as two of his young stars stepped up with decisive performances in Wednesday night’s victory over Tottenham.
Roberto Firmino struck a late winner as the Premier League champions took control at the top of the table with a 2-1 success.
And while it was indeed a performance that showed the kind of mentality that saw Liverpool end their 30-year wait for the title last term, it was two relative newcomers who really took their manager’s eye.
Curtis Jones once again impressed in midfield, the 19-year-old playing with intelligence and maturity as he produced another fine display.
And at the heart of defence, where Liverpool’s injury issues have hit hardest, another teenager, Rhys Williams, stepped up with a commanding performance alongside Fabinho.
Speaking post-game, Klopp was more than happy to praise the young pair – while pointing out a couple of bits he had noted during the game.
Jones has increasingly shone in the early half of the season in midfield, and having been Liverpool’s best player at the weekend in the draw at Fulham, was again integral to his side’s showing.
His outstanding display was another sign of his huge potential, leading Klopp to declare: “Curtis is Curtis. Our boy. Thank God. Imagine you have to sign him!
“He’s already here four years and wants to stay, so that’s a top, top-class player.”
Jones was similarly lauded on social media, with ex-England striker Gary Lineker declaring: “What a lovely footballer Curtis Jones is. Gonna be a helluva player.”
Behind Jones was Williams, deputising for the injured Joel Matip after being selected ahead of Nat Phillips.
The 19-year-old, who spent a spell last season on loan at Kidderminster Harriers was largely unruffled, leading Klopp to eulogise over his display.
And while he did so, the German also noted Spurs’ approach towards the young centre-back.
“Oh my god! Outstanding, outstanding. Come on, Rhys Williams you can imagine, it’s like the modern-day Alan Shearer he played against, Harry Kane.
“He is so smart, dropping in the right moments. Second half they only played long balls and actually avoided Rhys.
“They played them in the direction of Fabinho and put Harry there – so we had to really fight for these second balls – because Rhys is so strong in the air.
“But with the ball as well, he played a pass before our first goal. He has the right amount of confidence. For a 19-year-old boy you don’t have to explain to other people how it works, but you have to be confident.
“Apart from that, he just kept it simple. Super challenges, but [also] interceptions in the centre when they tried to create counter-attacks, he didn’t drop too early so he won these balls.
“Absolutely incredible game, I have to say.”
Liverpool’s win moved them three points clear at the top of the table, with Jose Mourinho’s men remaining in second spot.
The Reds will look to extend their advantage when they face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
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