Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 August 2019

Jurgen Klopp lauds players after Liverpool return to top of Premier League table

Wijnaldum and Milner score to secure 2-0 win over Cardiff City and ninth consecutive victory in all competitions

Georginio Wijnaldum is surrounded by teammates after scoring for Liverpool against Cardiff City on Sunday. Mike Hewitt / Getty Images
Georginio Wijnaldum is surrounded by teammates after scoring for Liverpool against Cardiff City on Sunday. Mike Hewitt / Getty Images

Jurgen Klopp praised his Liverpool players for keeping their cool as they kept the pressure on Manchester City in the Premier League title race with a 2-0 triumph at Cardiff City on Sunday.

Goals in the second half from Georginio Wijnaldum and a James Milner penalty gave the Merseyside club the three points and put them back above City at the top of the table.

Liverpool lead the standings by two points with three games to play, but City can regain the position with their game in hand on Wednesday night at Manchester United.

Klopp was impressed that his side had not panicked in a tense clash in Wales, having to wait until the 57th minute for the opener as Wijnaldum netted with a fierce first-time shot from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner.

"I only know about me and I didn't feel it [the pressure]; we have to do it like we do it,” Klopp told the BBC. “We cannot change it. The boys try really with all they have, we only speak about the things we have to do.

"Their attitude is outstanding and it's a tough season but a very positive one as well.”

Both Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino had gone close in a nervous first half as Liverpool struggled to break down the home side, who were desperate themselves for points in their bid to avoid relegation.

But once Wijnaldum had opened the scoring Liverpool visibly relaxed and Jordan Henderson should have added a second when he skied an effort over from close range.

Cardiff did have their moments and Liverpool were given a let off when Sean Morrison headed wide with the goal at his mercy.

Morrison’s afternoon did not get any better as he was penalised with nine minutes to go for felling Mohamed Salah in the box and Milner coverted the spot-kick to secure the points for Klopp’s side.

Klopp added: “We knew we had to stay patient and do the right things.

“It was very dry on the pitch so passing was not very easy. The boys didn't get frustrated, we had wonderful chances in the first half but we knew if we continued we would have chances.”

The result leaves Cardiff three points adrift of safety with three games to go but manager Neil Warnock said he could not fault his side’s efforts.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will have been a happy man at the end of another round of hotly-contested Premier League matches. Will Oliver / EPA
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will have been a happy man at the end of another round of hotly-contested Premier League matches. Will Oliver / EPA

"We have done really well playing against a team without a weakness, they have top quality around the pitch,” Warnock said. “Overall I was pleased with the players, we played on the front foot and made it a good game - we are disappointed one or two things didn't go for us.”

Meanwhile, Arsenal’s hopes of a return to Uefa Champions League football were dented as they suffered a surprise 3-2 loss at home to Crystal Palace.

Goals from Christian Benteke, Wilfried Zaha and James McArthur gave Palace their first away win at Arsenal in 25 years and ended a streak of 10 wins in a row at the Emirates Stadium for Unai Emery’s men.

Emery challenged his side to bounce back at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday.

"We lost an opportunity today,” he said. “But now we finish it. If we win on Wednesday ... who knows it'll be difficult. At the moment, it's in our hands.”

Updated: April 21, 2019 10:14 PM

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