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Klopp admits Takumi Minamino goal was “absolutely helpful” after costly miss

Days after missing an open goal in Liverpool’s 0-0 draw with Arsenal, Takumi Minamino came off the bench to score his sixth of the season in Sunday’s 3-0 defeat of Brentford.

Minamino will have felt the disappointment more than most when he left the pitch after Thursday night’s League Cup semi-final first leg.

It was the No. 18 who skewed his shot over the bar with the goal gaping, missing the biggest chance of the game after Liverpool were continually frustrated by the low block of 10-man Arsenal.

That could have been a death knell for the Japan international, who has struggled to impose himself since joining Liverpool from Salzburg two years ago.

But he was bright after coming off the bench on Sunday, scoring with his first touch after a tenacious press and almost laying on a fourth with a smart through ball for Kaide Gordon.

That it came on his 27th birthday added significance for Minamino, who took to Instagram to describe it as a “birthday victory,” with the squad singing Happy Birthday to him before the game.

“Today pretty much started with birthday songs in all the available languages, and it was really nice!” Klopp told reporters.

“Taki obviously got the boost already before the game with the nice songs.

“Then coming on, being that much in the game and scoring this really nice goal [was] absolutely helpful – for him and for us.

“Very important, Taki is in a good moment and that’s why it was very helpful.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 16, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp embraces Takumi Minamino after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brentford FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Minamino has meshed well with a tight-knit squad at Liverpool, but on the pitch has often looked at odds with the system, unable to make an impact in a physical league.

With six goals for the season, however, he has already equalled his tally for the entirety of last term – including his time on loan at Southampton – despite having made 11 fewer appearances.

Two injuries have hampered his momentum this time out, but Klopp is hopeful he can now regain rhythm and confidence.

“Of course, injury interrupts rhythm and all these kinds of things,” the manager added.

“He played now the last game, 90 minutes, then now today coming on, which I think was the rhythm that was right for him.

“It was Thursday-Sunday, it’s not easy after coming back from injury, so that’s why he didn’t start today.

“But it’s good. How I said, he’s in a good moment.”

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