Liverpool were on cloud nine after securing their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League by emphatically dispatching Bayern Munich 3-1.
The Reds travelled to Munich with various scoreboard permutations in mind as they looked to navigate their way to the quarter-final stage, but confident in the knowledge that an away goal would tilt the tie in their favour.
The first blow was dealt by Liverpool after Sadio Mane latched onto a perfectly weighted ball from Virgil van Dijk, turned his way out of trouble and dispatched the ball into the back of the net, all without appearing to break sweat.
Serge Gnabry then capitalised on a defensive mistake to give Bayern Munich a lifeline, only for Van Dijk to head home in the second term.
Then Mane added the finishing touches on a memorable European performance away from home.
The result saw Jurgen Klopp’s Reds seal their place in the Champions League’s final eight for the second season running, and for James Milner it was a performance built on character.
After the game, Milner lauded his team-mates for successfully navigating through Jordan Henderson’s early departure, while Mane was also singled out for praise after yet another stunning display in front of goal:
“I thought it was a good performance away from home in Europe against a good team.
“It’s never easy, they are going to have spells on top. We didn’t play our best but it’s about getting a result. We defended pretty well, didn’t give them too much, and the front three were outstanding again.
“Sadio is on fire. The first goal was ridiculous really, how he has finished it off—the calmness and the finish.
“He is on fire at the moment and hopefully that continues for the rest of the season.
“It says a lot about the team and the boys on the bench ready to come on, the squad we’ve got.
“Obviously you work leading up to the game on a plan and how you’re going to play. To lose the captain that early was difficult but we dealt with it well, Fab came on and did very well.
“We’ve got quality all through the squad and that’s what you need when you’re playing against these sorts of teams and in this competition.”
Similarly, Van Dijk hailed Mane’s form for Liverpool of late when speaking to LFCTV post-game, having also taken time to divulge on his own goalscoring threat after netting three in his last four games:
“Obviously Sadio’s been on a different level these last [few] weeks and months and he’s having a fantastic season.
“To score that goal is obviously a big blow for them because they have to score two and for us obviously unlucky to concede the equaliser, but the second half was outstanding.
“Hopefully [I’m on a goalscoring roll].
“I’m trying but you know its not easy, today as well I think I was the only one marked in the box by [Javi] Martinez and I tried to get rid of him a little bit, and so I’m happy to score a goal.
“It was unbelievable [to celebrate with the fans]. They come everywhere we go, they are everywhere anyway, and its always a great feeling to play for this club. I’m proud to wear the shirt.”
Although Instagram’s blackout prevented the Liverpool squad from taking to the platform to rejoice straight after the game, as soon as it was back online the celebratory messages flooded in.
Mane, Roberto Firmino, Dejan Lovren and Alisson all hailed the “big win” after another night to remember as a Red:
Andy Robertson expressed his “love” for the team, while his fellow full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold looked to emphatically state that the Reds are primed for quarter-final action:
Simon Mignolet was the latest to laud the stunning performance of Van Dijk as Jordan Henderson commended the win and hoped for a quick recovery, while Milner took to Twitter to celebrate and thank the travelling Kop:
Great performance ??
Great result ??
Great night ??
Thanks to the travelling fans in the heavens ??#manesfirstwasoutrageous#quartersherewecome#YNWA pic.twitter.com/KBVhDY4frl
— James Milner (@JamesMilner) March 14, 2019
Next up is a trip to Craven Cottage to take on Fulham this Sunday, with Liverpool no doubt boosted by this incredible victory on the continent as they push for the Premier League title.