Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk has revealed why it was so important for the Reds to beat rivals Manchester United on Sunday.
Xherdan Shaqiri came off the bench to fire Liverpool back to the top of the Premier League and ramp up the pressure on United boss Jose Mourinho with a 3-1 victory.
The Switzerland international’s two-goal 20-minute cameo spared the blushes of goalkeeper Alisson Becker, whose 33rd-minute howler had gifted Jesse Lingard an equaliser the visitors barely deserved.
It was indicative of the mentality of the two managers that Mourinho sent on defensive midfielder Marouane Fellaini at half-time with the score at 1-1 while Reds boss Jurgen Klopp turned to Shaqiri when that scoreline had not changed midway through the second half.
That proved to be the masterstroke as he scored twice, both via deflections, to add to Sadio Mane’s 24th-minute opener as Liverpool beat United for the first time in nine league meetings.
“It was special,” Van Dijk admitted.
“It was a long time ago that we won against them at home. We wanted to make it right and we wanted to show everyone that we’re doing pretty well.
“We had to be brave. We knew what we were going to face.
“They obviously have a lot of quality, especially up front, but we did well – we didn’t give them any chance to have clear options. It was a deserved win.”
Van Dijk admits he and his team-mates did well to recover and respond after Lingard’s equaliser.