Jurgen Klopp relaxed about Mohamed Salah’s Liverpool goal drought

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp and Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrate after their recent Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur. (Reuters)
Updated 03 April 2019
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Jurgen Klopp relaxed about Mohamed Salah’s Liverpool goal drought

  • Salah, who scored 44 times in his maiden season at Anfield, has gone eight matches without finding the net
  • Salah’s success last season means he has attracted more attention from opponents

LONDON: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is relaxed about Mohamed Salah’s goalscoring drought, saying the Egyptian forward remains a key part of the title chasers’ attacking armory.
Salah, who scored 44 times in his maiden season at Anfield, has gone eight matches without finding the net but still has 20 goals in 2018/19 and played a pivotal part in the last-gasp winner against Tottenham on Sunday.
“When everybody is talking about ‘he didn’t score in I don’t know how many games’, he doesn’t seem to be bothered about it. I’m not,” Klopp said on Wednesday.
“For sure we didn’t really speak about it. I think if something is clear and obvious you do speak about it. How do you deal with a situation when he scored 40 goals last year?
“His career’s not over. It’s like if he can score this year 20 goals then he’s scored 60 in the last two. Wow, that’s not too bad.”
Salah’s success last season means he has attracted more attention from opponents in the current campaign, often being double-marked.
It has had the effect, though, of benefiting teammates, with Sadio Mane (20 goals) and Roberto Firmino (14) taking on some of the burden.
“Sometimes you need a bit of time to adapt to the new situations and I don’t think he really needed that,” said Klopp on Salah’s overall value to the side and how he has coped with the close attention.
“He’s a threat. He helps us a lot. He deals with all the new situations for him really well.
“If you have only one (goalscorer), you think maybe you rely a bit too much on that. This year we don’t rely on Mo’s goals, but he’s still in a very good position in comparison to all the other players.
“Seventeen (league) goals is a good number, and there are still a lot of games to come. But it was never a problem. We have 79 points — you cannot have that with a lot of problems over the year.”
Liverpool travel to Southampton on Friday and Klopp reported a clean bill of health after a minor injury worry over defender Virgil van Dijk following the win over Tottenham.


Dutch cap Europe’s World Cup dominance by ousting Japan

Updated 26 June 2019
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Dutch cap Europe’s World Cup dominance by ousting Japan

  • The reigning European champions will need to maintain that composure as they prepare for a meeting with Italy

RENNES, France: Tears were still flowing from Saki Kumagai’s eyes more than 30 minutes later.
With victorious Dutch rivals passing her on the way out of the stadium, Japan’s captain seemed to find solace in speaking about the penalty long after it cost her team a place in the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup.
With Tuesday night’s game entering the 90th minute locked at 1-1, Kumagai’s outstretched left arm blocked the shot Vivianne Miedema had aimed into the right side of the net.
“It had my hand for sure,” Kumagai said. “It’s difficult to accept but it’s also sad. I know that is football.”
Referee Melissa Borjas pointed to the penalty spot and Lieke Martens netted her second goal of the game in the 90th minute to seal a 2-1 victory that sent the Netherlands into the quarterfinals for the first time.
“We have made history,” Martens said. “I’m not usually taking the penalties but I felt really good this game. I asked Sherida Spitse if I could take it and she gave it directly to me and I felt quite relaxed about it.”
The reigning European champions will need to maintain that composure as they prepare for a meeting with Italy on Saturday after going one stage further than their Women’s World Cup debut four years ago.
“We were standing in the circle after the match and we were so happy, yelling at each other,” Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman said. “We were saying, ‘Let’s continue writing history.’“
It is journey’s end for Japan, which won the 2011 tournament and was the runner-up four years later.
The strength of the second-half display counted for nothing.
As befitting a meeting of the Asian and European champions, the game produced some of the slickest action of the World Cup. A backheel flick set up Martens to send the Dutch in front in the 17th minute and Yui Hasegawa equalized in the 43rd to complete a slick passing move.
But the post, crossbar and goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal thwarted Japan’s pursuit of a winning goal.
“I think we lacked the clinical edge,” Japan coach Asako Takakura said. “We have to accept the result, we’re defeated, we’re very disappointed and for all the players I feel very sorry for them and frustrated.”
With the last Asian team eliminated, the Women’s World Cup will have a record seven European teams in the quarterfinals. Norway and England meet in Le Havre on Thursday and France takes on the United States the following night. After the Netherlands plays Italy on Saturday, Germany and Sweden will meet.
“It’s really tough to be here,” Netherlands forward Miedema said. “Sometimes it kind of feels like a Euros.”
That is a title already won by this team, thanks to Miedema’s goals in the final two years ago on home soil.
The fans won’t have far to travel for the World Cup quarterfinal, with Valenciennes around two hours’ drive from the Netherlands.
It will be another chance for the orange-clad fans who danced and sang their way in a convoy to the stadium on Tuesday to stamp their mark on this tournament.
They were certainly given a game to savor, and an audacious opening goal.
Martens flicked in the opener after evading her marker to meet a corner and send the ball through the legs of Yuika Sugasawa into the net.
Sugasawa had a quick chance to tie, only to hit the post. But Japan did equalize by completing an intricate move.
Hina Sugita squared across the penalty area to Yuika Sugasawa, who passed back to Mana Iwabuchi on the edge of the penalty area. After holding off Jackie Groenen on the turn, Iwabuchi slipped the ball through to Hasegawa, who was free to delicately dink a shot over Van Veenendaal into the corner of the net.
It was some way to make the most of a first shot on target for a team that failed to score in two of its three group stage games.
But parity nearly didn’t last long.
Miedema received the ball from Shanice van de Sanden but with only Ayaka Yamashita to beat struck straight at the Japan goalkeeper.
Van Veenendaal came to the rescue of the Dutch in the second half by denying Emi Nakajima as Japan chased the winner.
“Japan is a world class team and you saw that today,” Miedema said. “In the second half you can see they have loads of quality on the pitch.”