Gleeful Klopp praises Liverpool squad for hard work in Wolves win

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Mohamed Salah and Virgil Van Dijk ensured Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was a very happy boss after Liverpool downed Wolves 2-0 on Friday to lock in the top spot in the Premier League table on Christmas morning.

Salah scored inside the opening 20 minutes and Van Dijk bagged his first Premier League goal for Liverpool with 22 minutes to go, leaving the Reds with 48 points heading into the festive period.

[ RECAP: Liverpool tops Wolves 2-0 ]

Klopp, speaking to Sky Sports after the match, was filled with glee as he talked fondly about his players and how well they executed his instructions. He spoke at length about how he asks a lot of his players, especially the wingers who make blistering runs even when the midfielders lose the ball, and how his defenders must deal with a hard-working opponent. Then, he singled out his attackers for their play up front.

“We were a constant threat, Mo [Salah] was…pff…unbelievable, quick, I think he had 20 or 30 sprints tonight,” Klopp said. “Bobby [Firmino] again, outstanding between the lines, he changed the whole game for us, he was everywhere and he’s hard to mark, that’s good. They’re really in the game, it’s brilliant. We all know it’s so important that Friday night, Wolverhampton, they are in a good run, one of the more difficult games of the season.”

He also said that, with Wolves coming into the match on a three-game winning streak and impressing the league after promotion from the Championship, his team played well to disrupt their style of play.

“For their style of play, they didn’t have a lot. It’s difficult to play…everybody wants to press these times, everybody wants to be compact, and they shoot the ball from one side to the other, and it’s quite difficult [to play against], and they’re good at that. So I thought we did well, we deserved to win, we were the better side, that’s all cool but the boys showed that we are ready for these different games, and that makes me really happy.”

[ MORE: Solskjaer wants permanent Man Utd job ]

With the adrenaline still clearly pumping pitchside, a scatterbrained Klopp was all over the place, switching between talking tactics and praising his players. He specifically called out his midfield duo of Fabinho and Jordan Henderson for taking the foot off the gas pedel before halftime – although not by name, referred to as “the two six’s” – but said the team picked it right back up after the break. Still, he said his team overall put in a good performance, using possession in the second half to nullify a dangerous Wolves attack.

“The last 15 minutes [of the first half] was clear, we could give the game away, you could see body language lurch a little bit, the two six’s wanted the ball but standing in the situation, giving the ball…’oh you’re not free you don’t want it’…we stopped playing football. You control a game like this in possession, that’s what you do, and we did that very long, but the last 15 minutes not, and the second half we started again with that. When you play the ball around, it’s not the most exciting game anymore [with Liverpool controlling the ball], of course not, but you have to keep the ball.”

Then with a big grin on his face, like a child opening a present on Christmas morning, “And um, yeah, we won it, so that’s cool.”

Eight of the last nine teams top of the table on Christmas have gone on to win the league title, with Liverpool in 2014 the only outlier. Asked again about Liverpool’s title chances, with the Reds top of the table, Klopp continued to skirt the question, but conceded that he’s excited about the prospects of what could be.

“So far it looks like a really special season, 48 points mid-December before Christmas, that’s just crazy, but other teams – Chelsea, City, Tottenham, Arsenal – all are winning as well, they all have 40-something as well. So that’s the season, everybody from 4, 5, 6 nobody drops points, at the end of the season you probably need 105 or something to be champions. We know we are good, we know we are in a good moment, but we have to respect that the others are good as well, so we cannot start a party or plan a party for something now.”

The Reds now have four days to rest before meeting Newcastle on Boxing Day, beginning a stretch of three matches in nine days.

Predicting the rest of the Women’s World Cup

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The Women’s World Cup is into the final eight, with seven of the eight teams hailing from Europe.

[ MORE: Women’s World Cup Power Rankings ]

The lone outlier is some team from North America who may or may not have won the last World Cup and can become the first team to win four of the things.

Who thinks they will? Our staff weighs in on the matter below.


Joe Prince-Wright

Quarterfinals
England defeats Norway
France defeats USA
Netherlands defeats Italy
Germany defeats Sweden

Semifinals
England v. France
Netherlands v. Germany 

Final
France defeats Germany
Wendie Renard of France celebrates with teammates (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

Nicholas Mendola

Quarterfinals
England defeats Norway
USA defeats France
Italy defeats Netherlands
Germany defeats Sweden

Semifinals
USA defeats England
Germany defeats Italy 

Final
USA defeats Germany

Andy Edwards

Quarterfinals
England
defeats Norway
France defeats USA
Italy defeats Netherlands
Germany defeats Sweden

Semifinals
France
defeats England
Germany defeats Italy

Final
Germany defeats France

Dzsenifer Marozsan of Germany  (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

Dan Karell
Quarterfinals
England defeats Norway
USA defeats France
Netherlands defeats Italy
Germany defeats Sweden
Semifinals
USA defeats England
Netherlands defeats GermanyFinal
USA defeats Netherlands

Kyle Bonn

Quarterfinals
England
defeats Norway
France defeats USA
Netherlands defeats Italy
Germany defeats Sweden

Semifinals
France
defeats England
Germany defeats Italy

Final
France defeats Germany

WATCH: Stoppage time missile earns Curacao draw with Jamaica

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This Gold Cup isn’t short on drama.

A day after Haiti stunned Costa Rica to win Group B, it was Curacao’s turn to up the ante.

Needing a point to stay alive for a knockout round berth, Jurien Gaari ripped a stoppage time rocket into the back of the goal to defy Andre Blake and Jamaica a win and the Group C crown (at least for a couple of hours).

[ MORE: Spurs set to add $82M mid ]

Shamar Nicholson had given the Reggae Boyz a 14th minute lead, but Jamaica couldn’t find a second goal.

If Honduras beats El Salvador in the business end of the doubleheader in Los Angeles, Curacao will finish second in the group and advance to face either the USMNT or Panama.

If El Salvador manages a draw or win, well, at least Curacao will have this wonder from RKC Waalwijk’s right back:

AFCON wrap: Pote’s beauty helps Benin draw Ghana; Cameroon wins

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All 24 teams at the Africa Cup of Nations have a match in the books as of Tuesday, and we’ve got another tournament surprise.

[ MORE: Spurs set to add $82M mid ]

Having already seen Uganda upset the Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar draw Guinea, this one came when Ghana met Benin.

It was aided by a red card to Ghana, but the 88th ranked Les Écureuils (Squirrels) of Benin managed a result.


Cameroon 2-0 Guinea-Bissau

Scoreless at halftime, Cameroon saw Yaya Banana and Stephane Bahoken score three minutes apart to give the Indomitable Lions the Group F lead on Day One of group play.

Ghana 2-2 Benin

Mickael Pote scored first and last, giving Benin a valuable point against 10-man Ghana.

The Black Stars went behind in the second minute on Pote’s first, only to get Andre Ayew and Jordan Ayew goals on either side of halftime to build a lead of their own.

But John Boye took a 54th minute red card and Pote potted his second nine minutes later to give Benin an early Group F bonus.

How about this sweep behind the leg?

David Silva will make 10th season his last as Man City

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David Silva says his 10th season at Manchester City will be his last with the Etihad Stadium set.

“It completes the cycle,” he said in a press conference this week. “It’s a nice round figure. I can never see myself playing against City for another team. So 10 years – that’s it.”

Silva turns 34 in January, and posted 10 goals and 14 assists in 50 appearances for Pep Guardiola‘s men last season.

[ MORE: Spurs set to add $82M mid ]

All told, he enters this one-year contract with 396 appearances for City, scoring 71 goals with 129 assists. He’s won the Premier League four times, the FA Cup twice, and the League Cup four times.

He was last capped by Spain at the 2018 World Cup, where he’s scored 37 times in 129 caps. He’s also played with Valencia and Celta Vigo in his native country.

The news comes less than a week after a fellow Spanish legend, Fernando Torres, announced his retirement.

But Silva seems like he’s got a bit more in the tank. Could he be one of the big names matched with Inter Miami for 2020? Or might he follow Xavi’s route to the Middle East?