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Klopp says hat-trick Mane finally back to his best for Liverpool

Liverpool left no doubt that they are a force to be reckoned with in Europe by putting five past Porto in the Estádio do Dragão.
Following their sound victory over Porto, the ESPN FC panel praise Liverpool and also discuss the state of Portuguese football.

PORTO, Portugal -- Jurgen Klopp believes Liverpool's "very good" performance in the 5-0 win over Porto was the result of an impressive all-round team display on Wednesday night, while saying a wayward Sadio Mane is finally back.

In their first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie, Liverpool handed Porto their heaviest European home defeat in the Portuguese club's history, with a result that almost certainly puts the Reds in the quarterfinals of the competition for the first time since 2009.

Mane scored a hat trick at the Estadio do Dragao, while Mohamed Salah took his tally to 30 goals for the season in all competitions as Roberto Firmino also got on the scoresheet.

It was Mane's first ever hat trick for Liverpool after breaking the deadlock against Porto in the 25th minute before scoring twice in the second half. Klopp believes the Senegal international forward is now back to his best following a recent spell of indifferent form.

"He gave the right answer," Klopp added. "That's good. I said to him after the last game: 'Finally you're back' immediately after when we talked on the pitch.

"Tonight he showed it again what a fantastic player he is. He was always important, he was always fantastic for us, even in his not-that-good moments.

"The first was a little lucky, but the other two -- the second one was about being in the right place and he used his fantastic skills on the third one so it's good, really good. I'm happy about it."

When asked how he would describe Liverpool's outing in Portugal, Klopp told a news conference: "As a very good one.

"Exactly as good as necessary, so in the end it was a high result but I think everyone saw in the game all the moments when we were not as compact as we wanted to be and Porto was immediately strong. They had their moments and we scored fantastic goals in the right moment.

"We defended really well and that was most important tonight. Porto are top of the league here and you are not top of the league if you don't play football, so it was clear they have clear movements, patterns, they know what to do in each moment.

"Good crosses, often an offensively-orientated team, so yes, defending was really important."

Sadio Mane
Sadio Mane celebrates after scoring his third goal in Liverpool's 5-0 win against Porto.

Salah became the second-fastest Liverpool player to the 30-goal landmark in the club's history -- behind only George Allan whose 27 games in 1896 was seven faster.

"He played a good season, I recognise that already but it's very important for us,'' added Klopp. "Each goal was kind of a winner. That's important tonight. We spoke a lot about Mo in the last few weeks, completely deserved.

"Sadio had his comeback tonight, and Roberto was there again after outstanding work-rate again, so it was good.

"Who was quickest? [Answer George Allan]. Wow. That's long ago then, because sorry, I don't know. That makes it more exciting so congratulations, but hopefully it won't stop.''

Despite the result on Wednesday night, Klopp stressed how he does not think Liverpool's participation in the quarterfinals is guaranteed.

When asked asked whether he thought the tie was over, the Reds boss replied: "No of course not, why should I?

"We came here to create the basis for the second leg at Anfield -- and that's what we did, not more, not less.

"As I said a few times, I am too long in the business to think anything is sorted before the final whistle. We owe our supporters at Anfield a 100 percent performance and that's what we want to deliver. That's all."

Porto coach Sergio Conceicao felt his side allowed the game to get away from them at 2-0 when they still had a chance to claw something back.

"We started the game on an even keel. We even had a great chance through Otavio in the first 20 minutes,'' he said.

"On one occasion we sought to break out quickly from the back in a move that started with our goalkeeper but we lost possession and conceded the first.

"We made a few more mistakes which cost us dearly, especially against a team with that kind of firepower.

"We reacted well to going behind but then went two down because we were too passive. From there, it becomes even more difficult.''

Information from Press Association Sport was used in this story.

Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.

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