Liverpool boss Klopp launches passionate Roberto Firmino defence after Diogo Jota hattrick
Jurgen Klopp has jumped to the defence of Roberto Firmino after the Brazilian watched new boy Diogo Jota hit a Champions League hat-trick against Atalanta on Tuesday night. The Premier League champions ran riot in Bergamo and are now on the brink of qualification to the knockout stages after making it three wins from three in Europe.
Klopp decided to rest Firmino and reward Jota for his recent hot-streak after netting recent winners against Sheffield United and West Ham.
It was a decision that soon paid off as the Portuguese struck twice in the first half to put Liverpool 2-0 up at the break.
He then completed his hat-trick in impressive style to add a fifth after Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane also got in on the act.
Jota now looks set to keep his place in the side ahead of the trip to Manchester City on Sunday, despite limping off.
After the game, Klopp was not impressed when Firmino’s role was thrown into question by a journalist after Jota’s treble.
He said: “All good. Good performances never give me a headache. For tonight that was the decision, it was clear it makes sense for tonight, first of all to use the good shape Diogo is in.
“And because of the way Atalanta plays and defends, it made sense that the skillset of Diogo helps. But the world is sometimes a really bad place that in the moment when somebody is shining, we speak immediately about another player who played for us, it feels like, 500 games in a row.
“We would not be in the Champions League even if Bobby Firmino would not be with us.
“And immediately I have to explain why he is not in the team. He will be in the team and for a lot of people in the world, if you would ask them: ‘What makes Liverpool some days special?’
“I would say the way Bobby Firmino is playing because on a good day he is not to defend. For us, it’s important that we have more than 11 and tonight Diogo used his shape in an incredible way and played a super, super game.
“But that says nothing about Bobby and has nothing to do with me causing headaches. I’m more than happy that the boys played like they played tonight.”
Firmino has scored just once this season but Klopp is clearly under no illusions that he remains a key player for the Reds.
Jota has now struck three hat-tricks in Europe in the past 10 months but this was in a league of its own as far as he was concerned.
“I’m playing in the best team of my career so far,” he told BT Sport.
“I don’t know if it’s the best moment of my career but obviously scoring goals is my way of playing football.
“I’m happy with this, a great win away in the Champions League, a good moment and a good night.
“The first one was my favourite because it unlocks the game – for all teams it’s important to get the first goal in each game.
“We scored early so that’s a good moment for me and the team and then we can manage the game our way.”
The £40million signing appears to have natural chemistry with Mane and Salah and he paid tribute to his fellow attacking duo for their part in his hat-trick.
He added: “Obviously they are two world-class players, we all know their quality which makes it easier for me to do my job because they are outstanding and we had a great game together today.”