Thiago Alcantara had a message for Sadio Mane in the wake of Liverpool’s 4-1 victory against Aston Villa on Friday night. The win ensured the Reds’ safe passage into the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Thiago, 29, was a second-half substitute and his introduction was an inspired one, too. Within minutes, the Spaniard up opened up the picture for a Liverpool team that had been stuck in tunnel vision.
Thus, his expansive repertoire was able to cause problems and open up a Villa back-line that had remained resolute for a good hour.
Indeed, it may have been against kids, but Thiago provided the necessary spark for his team when Liverpool were worryingly lacking in ideas.
During his 45 minute cameo, Thiago had 76 touches, made 65 passes and won two aerial duel. A good evening’s work, then.
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After the match, Thiago took the time to dedicate his social media post to teammate and two-time goalscorer Mane. The £34 million [BBC] man was on the scoresheet twice to take his tally for the season to nine goals.
During a night where getting the job done was all that mattered, Klopp could have few complaints, it would seem. Through to the next round, no further injuries and much-needed minutes in the tank for a selection of stars.
However, Liverpool will have to improve significantly, too. Manchester United will be in town a week on Sunday, after all, by which time Jurgen Klopp could be trailing his north-west rivals in the table.
For Thiago, it will be a long-awaited Anfield debut. And on the evidence of his latest performance, it could not come at a better time for Liverpool.