Tuesday night’s 3-1 first-leg win against Benfica in the Champions League Quarter-Finals has put Liverpool a step closer to the semi-finals for the first time since they won the tournament in the 2018/19 campaign.
Goals from Ibrahima Konate, Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz cancelled out a late Darwin Nunez strike to ensure the advantage before playing Anfield next week. While Diaz impressed manager Jurgen Klopp on the ex-Porto man’s return to Portugal, Klopp would also have been relieved for Mane to have broken his 5-game goal drought on Tuesday.
With last month’s AFCON campaign and last week’s WC qualifiers, the Senegalese star has been working overtime with his club and national commitments. With Liverpool playing for three different trophies in the next week, his return to form would be vital to the club’s chances of securing a quadruple this season.
The Senegalese international has 12 goals and 1 assist to his name in the Premier League this season, giving him Liverpool’s third-best scoring rate behind only Mo Salah and Diogo Jota, according to whoscored.com. He is currently 10 goals behind his best-ever scoring record for Liverpool in the PL (22) during the 2018/19 Golden Boot winning season and would be hoping to equal that milestone this season.
Mane would have gained much-needed confidence thanks to Luis Diaz who unselfishly set up the Senegalese for the close-range finish inside the Benfica box. The forward also seemed happy with the goal as Mane later took to Instagram to celebrate the team win.
The Liverpool man posted a picture of him and centre-back Virgil van Dijk embracing mid-game following the goal. But Mane also chose this opportunity to deploy a cheeky dig at the Dutchman in reference to their respective nations being drawn together in the same group for the Qatar World Cup in November.
“Big man we still friend until …. 🤪#well done boys 💪,” joked Mane using the caption for his Instagram post.
Following the draw last Friday, Netherlands and Senegal were drawn into the same group alongside hosts Qatar and Ecuador to comprise Group A. While Qatar and Ecuador will feature in the tournament’s opening fixture, it would be followed by Van Dijk’s Netherlands taking on Mane’s Senegal.
It seems exciting times await the Reds duo in the near future as Mane and Van Dijk would be looking to work together for Liverpool in their chase for the quadruple before finally facing off one another at the World Cup.