Mohamed Salah challenged Liverpool to carry their Champions League form into the Premier League and make the most of their remaining games before the World Cup.
The Egypt international poached the first goal in a 2-0 home win over Napoli on Tuesday as Liverpool ended their group-stage campaign in Europe on a high with a fifth successive victory in the competition.
The Anfield outcome was not enough for Liverpool to topple their Italian opponents from the top of Group A, but both march through to the last-16 stage with ambitions to go deep.
Yet Liverpool’s domestic form has been poor this term, with just four wins in 12 Premier League games seeing them stuck in a mid-table rut, exemplified by recent losses to Nottingham Forest and Leeds United.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have Tottenham away on Sunday, followed by Southampton at home the following Saturday, before a large number of their players head to Qatar 2022.
Salah will not be among them, after Egypt’s penalty shoot-out defeat to Senegal in African qualifying back in March, with his ambitions for the season all centred around bringing trophy success to Liverpool.
He savoured the moment against Luciano Spalletti’s Napoli, who are leading the Serie A title race, and told BT Sport: “To win against one of the best teams in the world, one of the best coaches in the world, it’s always a good feeling, but we just need to carry on.
“It’s a good result for us – hopefully it gives us more confidence, and we just need to focus now in the Premier League and carry on.”
Salah did not realise he had been awarded the opening goal, after Darwin Nunez’s powerful header almost crept over the line before the ball trickled back out. Salah tucked it in to make sure but said afterwards: “Is it mine? Honestly, I didn’t know.”
He now has seven in this season’s Champions League, making him the competition’s top goalscorer for now.
— Opta Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) November 1, 2022
Nunez got Liverpool’s second from inches out in the final moments, the second tap-in of the game, and Salah said: “As a striker, I like to score and Darwin also likes to score, so we’re glad that we got both goals today.
“I think it’s important, that win today. It gives us more confidence, especially because we played a good game, and we played with the ball and without the ball, we tried to recover the ball quickly. As you can see in the league we’re not doing great, but hopefully we can give ourselves a push, and we just need to win more games in the league.”
After playing with two forwards recently, Klopp reverted to his long-favoured 4-3-3 formation, and it paid off.
Salah said choosing Liverpool’s shape was “not my job, it’s the gaffer’s job”, but he firmly indicated his preference for the three-man attacking line, with his role on the right of the trio.
“Any position that makes me comfortable, I’m happy about it, but I’ve played in the position for five, six years and I have to say that yes, the position is the best for me, but I’m not the manager,” Salah said.
“The manager decides the tactics, and as a player you have to follow the leader.”