With Liverpool’s injury list seemingly growing by the day, there was initially serious concern when TV cameras focussed on Sadio Mane being treated on the substitutes bench with an ice-pack strapped to his leg.
With Virgil van Dijk and Thiago Alcantara both currently injured, Liverpool could not afford to lose a third world-class player in the space of just five days.
Luckily for Mane, for whom has remained one of Liverpool’s most durable players in recent seasons, his removal in the second half wasn’t deemed as serious.
As it happened, it handed opportunities to the likes of Diogo Jota, Takumi Minamino and Xherdan Shaqiri as what followed was an unexpected and unprecedented triple change as his pedigreed front-three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino were all replaced simultaneously.
It was the first time in Jurgen Klopp’s managerial reign that he had taken them off together and only the fifth occasion in which all three had all been substituted in the same game.
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Mane proved to have the biggest impact on Liverpool’s match-winning goal after the Senegalese ace’s trickery in the box forced Nicolas Tagliafico to put the ball into his own net.
After the match, Klopp provided an update on the 28-year-old’s fitness and revealed Mane had been playing with a dead leg at The Johan Cruyff Arena.
Speaking to Liverpool’s official website, he said: “Sadio has since a few days a dead leg and deals with that in that area. That’s the only thing why it’s still painful but it’s not a problem. When he doesn’t play, he puts ice on it.”
With that said, Mane can be expected to be fit in time for Saturday’s Premier League clash for Sheffield United.
Mane’s removal on the hour mark last night enabled Jota to make an impact from the bench last night against Ajax and we think his impressive late-cameo could warrant Klopp to considering swapping the Portugal international for Roberto Firmino at the weekend.
Liverpool will hope that their slender win, achieved due to a gritty, resilient defensive display and sprinkled with a little good fortune can springboard the team back to winning ways when they return to domestic duties at Anfield on Saturday.
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