Klopp hails in­spi­ra­tional Van Dijk as City fall short

Evening Times - - SPORT -

JUR­GEN KLOPP says he has come to ex­pect noth­ing but the best from Vir­gil Van Dijk.

The Dutch de­fender scored both goals as Premier League lead­ers Liver­pool in­creased their lead over cham­pi­ons Manch­ester City to 11 points with a nervy 2-1 win over Brighton on Satur­day.

Van Dijk headed home twice from superb Trent Alexan­derArnold crosses in the first half at An­field, putting his side on course for a com­fort­able tri­umph.

The ex­pected cruise to vic­tory did not ma­te­ri­alise, chiefly be­cause goal­keeper Alis­son Becker was sent off for hand­ball out­side the area in the lat­ter stages. Lewis Dunk pulled one back with a crafty free-kick and the 10-man Reds were left hang­ing on with deputy goal­keeper Adrian need­ing to make a num­ber of saves.

But af­ter the re­lief of the fi­nal whis­tle, the plau­dits went to Van Dijk for a typ­i­cally com­mand­ing dis­play, although man­ager Klopp was keen to share the praise.

Klopp said: “He scored two goals – that’s the story it­self. He’s good, re­ally good, out­stand­ingly good – but he has to be [be­cause] he’s a very tal­ented boy. He just has to use that tal­ent and it would be a shame if he doesn’t.

“So yes, he’s in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant but if Vir­gil played the last line alone it would be pretty dif­fi­cult.”

Mean­while, Manch­ester City cen­tre-back John Stones is re­fus­ing to give up on his Premier League ti­tle dream de­spite see­ing his side slip 11 points off the pace.

Stones will head into Tues­day night’s trip to Burn­ley still believ­ing it is pos­si­ble to over­haul Liver­pool.

He said: “We need to look at our game and see what we did wrong. We need to be very open in how we ap­proach the neg­a­tive things and also the pos­i­tive things we did to­day and see where we can im­prove.

“It’s such a short space of time be­tween now and Tues­day, but it’s some­thing we need to do and keep fight­ing to con­test for the Premier League.

“That dream should re­main and we still have to fight for ev­ery­one. I’m sure the fans and ev­ery­one in­volved in the club is do­ing the same. We can do it. It’s been done be­fore, we need to be pos­i­tive and keep believ­ing in our team.”

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