The Reds were already 1-0 up and one man up before Kepa’s big mistake, with Mane having broken the deadlock following a first-half red card for Andreas Christensen.
But a passage of play soon after the Senegalese’s first characterised the fight within Jurgen Klopp‘s squad, and in particular Mane, as he first lost the ball before pressing Kepa into a laughable error and a tap in for 2-0.
It was another miserable moment for the Chelsea goalkeeper, who will likely soon be replaced as Frank Lampard’s first choice, but as Liverpool’s two-goal winger told Sky Sports, the Reds deserve credit for forcing him into a sloppy pass out.
“These kind of things are what we try on the training pitch,” Mane told Sky Sports after the game.
“When I got the ball I knew it would be difficult for him to have another option, I was in front of him and he tried to pass it, and unlucky for him it was a mistake.
“Lucky for me, I scored a second goal for my team.”
Klopp confirmed the approach in his own post-match interview, saying: “We did it the whole game, chase the goalkeeper down, and then when you get the reward it is especially nice.”
Mane was insistent that Christensen’s red card was deserved, and he singled out Jordan Henderson for praise for an outstanding pass that saw him through and hauled down by the Dane.
“It was a great ball from him, he’s a great player,” he continued.
“I know him, I know in that moment the only choice he had was to put the ball in. I tried to make the run and found the ball in front of me.
“When he made the foul, I knew it was a red card. Then after [a review] the referee gave him a red card, lucky for us.”
The winger was under no illusion that it was a “tough game” for Liverpool, and that Christensen’s dismissal helped turn the tide for the Premier League champions.
“Well, obviously I think it was a tough game, especially in the first half,” he said.
“We found it very difficult to create chances and I think when they got the red card it made it easier.
“In the second half we created many chances, and finally we scored two goals. Today we deserved to win.”
Mane is not wrong, it was another deserved win for Liverpool, and that is largely down to the work they were able to do at Melwood, with a week to prepare for the trip to Stamford Bridge.
There is another week between Premier League games, with Arsenal visiting Anfield on September 28, but between now and then there is a clash with Lincoln in the League Cup that should see Mane among those rested.
It will be a different challenge for a much-changed Reds, and it will be up to those coming in to impress Klopp and show they can apply the same patterns to progress to the fourth round.