Two-goal hero Sadio Mane believes Liverpool team-mate Roberto Firmino deserves special credit for the club’s UEFA Super Cup success.
Following Olivier Giroud’s first-half opener for Chelsea on Wednesday, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp replaced the struggling Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Firmino during the break in Istanbul.
The German’s decision proved to be spot on as Firmino’s introduction practically transformed Liverpool. He, in fact, ended up setting up both of Mane’s second-half goals to put the club in front before Jorginho’s 101st-minute penalty made it 2-2.
The Brazilian forward later scored the opening spot-kick, with keeper Adrian decisively saving an effort from Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham to earn the Reds a 5-4 win on penalties.
Despite his own starring role and that sublime second goal, Mane humbly paid tribute to Firmino instead.
“To be honest, I think I was just a lucky boy,” the Senegal star told UEFA.
“I think all the credit should go to my team-mates, especially Bobby [Firmino] – he could have scored but he preferred to give it to me.
“I think this is how we play at Liverpool. We play for each other and we always enjoy playing for each other and to give each other passes. I think that makes us strong.”
Meanwhile, Klopp confessed that he changed his plans for Firmino in the match after Liverpool’s first-half struggles.
The 27-year-old, who helped Brazil win the Copa America this summer, had only played in one pre-season friendly following an extended break.
“You learn from a game and it was a big change that we made because Bobby is different from all the other players in the world, probably, in that position,” said Klopp.
“He helped us a lot. For me him, too, it was really really intense and it wasn’t the plan for us to have him play nearly 80 minutes.
“He had pretty much no pre-season. That’s been a problem for us. We’ve had to throw in everything to be on top of things.”
Liverpool and Firmino will now turn their attentions to Saturday’s visit to Mane’s old club Southampton in the Premier League.