Jurgen Klopp has said he ‘needed’ Mohamed Salah to play 90 minutes in Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with FC Midtjylland – despite being worried about fixture congestion.
The Reds had already qualified for the Champions League knockout stages and were guaranteed top spot in Group D.
But Salah started the game in a much-changed XI and opened the scoring inside the first minute.
By the end, he was up front with regular partners Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino and Klopp said after the game per The Mirror: “You can make changes but you need a few key positions.
“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.”
I adore Klopp, he's a legend at Liverpool already, but he can't moan about fixture congestion too much if he then plays people like Trent, Fabinho, Jota and Salah in a game that literally means nothing.— Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) December 9, 2020
Salah did manage to become the club’s record goalscorer in the competition, with his 22nd goal taking him above previous holder Steven Gerrard.
Klopp paid tribute to the Egyptian and called him an ‘exceptional player.’
“It is one record after another,” he continued.
“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.
The Egyptian King's crowning moment has arrived 👑— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) December 9, 2020
Liverpool's greatest-ever goalscorer in the Champions League/European Cup proper!
Mohamed Salah scores goal number 22! 🔴👏 pic.twitter.com/butnjKuSqW