LIVERPOOL – Jurgen Klopp saluted Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker after the Brazilian's superb late save ensured his side advanced to the Champions League last 16 with a dramatic 1-0 win over Napoli on Tuesday.
Klopp's team were just seconds away from reaching the knockout stage as they clung to the first-half lead given to them by Mohamed Salah.
But Napoli had a golden opportunity to knock out the Reds in the closing seconds of their final Group C tie.
When a cross ran through to Arkadiusz Milik in stoppage-time at Anfield, it seemed certain he would score what looked a simple chance from close range.
But Alisson spread himself to make a brilliant stop as Milik paid the price for shooting too close to the keeper.
Klopp sought out Alisson, in his first season with the Reds after joining from Roma in a £56 million ($69 million) deal, to hug his star on the pitch during the joyous scenes after the final whistle.
And the German was quick to praise Alisson's key contribution, as well as the fine 34th-minute goal from Salah.
“Wow, what a game. I am not sure a manager could be prouder of a team than I am,” Klopp told BT Sport. “Mo Salah scored an unbelievable goal and I have no idea how Alisson made a save like this. It was amazing.
“The boys played an outstanding game. The way we pressed them meant they had to change their game completely. We were physically strong and they had no real key for us.”
After reaching last season's Champions League final, where they were beaten by Real Madrid, Liverpool remained on course for a return to the title match by the skin of their teeth.
Klopp insisted Liverpool deserved to progress after creating a hatful of chances before and after Salah's decisive strike on another memorable and raucous Anfield European night.
“We could have scored more, that's obvious. It was wild and there were lots of counter-attacks but we were ready for that. That is Anfield live and in colour,” Klopp said. “You could watch all the Napoli games and not find a team that caused them the problems we caused them tonight.
“UEFA probably thought they could continue the competition without Liverpool, but not yet!
“We deserved to lose at Napoli and tonight we deserved to win. My respect for Napoli couldn't be bigger, how strong they are and they found tonight an opponent that was ready for them.”
Agence France-Presse (AFP)