Jurgen Klopp says he “needed” Mohamed Salah to play the full 90 minutes at FC Midtjylland on Wednesday despite Liverpool having already won their Champions League group.
Salah opened the scoring in the first minute of the match in Denmark, but a much-changed Reds side had to settle for a point after Alexander Scholz scored a second half equaliser from the penalty spot.
Klopp’s recent crusade against fixture congestion and the amount of matches his team are expected to play meant that many expected him to leave most of star names at home for the dead rubber clash, but Liverpool ended the match with Salah still on the pitch, and joined by Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane in attack.
“You can make changes but you need a few key positions,” Klopp told reporters. “It could have been one of the other three up front (to play 90 minutes) as well.
“In the last line that was the reason why Fabinho played 45 minutes there. In midfield usually it would probably have been Naby (Keita) but he didn’t play that often so couldn’t fulfil the role and needs minutes now again.
“That was the decision for Mo and how the game developed and how the game looked, Mo looked fine so that’s why we didn’t take him off.
“Even though players don’t play that much it is difficult to get through 90 minutes after a pretty long time when you don’t play 90 minutes.
“I was in contact with Mo and he didn’t have any issues, which is why he stayed on the pitch.”
Salah’s 22nd Champions League goal took him above Reds legend Steven Gerrard in the club’s all-time list, and Klopp paid tribute to the Egyptian.
“It is one record after another,” he said. “I didn’t know he could break his record tonight but I’m pretty sure he is proud of that, he should be.
“An exceptional player, an absolutely exceptional player. Since we were together he helps the team the way he knows and appreciates the help of the team as well.
“If it was only Mo, the incredible number of his goals, it would not be enough to be successful, so thank God others scored a lot of goals as well and made this team pretty successful.
“But Mo is a very exceptional player. Nobody doubted it but if you need numbers to prove, he delivers that as well.
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