Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp: Roma result better than I could've imagined
LIVERPOOL -- Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool's 5-2 win over Roma in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal was a scoreline better than he could have imagined prior to kickoff and hailed star forward Mohamed Salah's "world-class" form.
Roma's fightback keeps the last-four tie alive ahead of the return fixture at the Stadio Olimpico next week after Liverpool had found themselves 5-0 up inside 69 minutes on Tuesday.
Salah scored twice before half-time -- his 42nd and 43rd goals of the season -- before Roberto Firmino bagged a second-half double, with Sadio Mane also on the scoresheet.
Salah was then taken off and replaced by Danny Ings in the 75th minute as Roma responded with goals from Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti from the penalty spot.
Speaking at his postmatch news conference, Klopp said: "Now we have to work again at Rome. That's no problem.
"There would have been work for us to do when we win 5-0 because Roma would have tried everything to strike back anyway, so that's not a big difference.
"What I learned tonight is that we can win the second game as well, even when it will be different. Roma needs to score goals against us.
"I said it a few times, it should not sound like a warning or something, [but] we are not Barcelona. Barcelona is one of the two or three best teams in the world and they have won so many things in the last few years and we didn't.
"We will fight with all we have for that result again. It's much better than I could have expected before the game. But now in the moment I, of course, feel the two goals we conceded.
"To be 100 percent honest, I'm already in the Stoke game [on Saturday]. I'm much more interested in the Stoke game at the moment."
Salah faced Roma for the first time since his summer move to Liverpool, with the Egyptian breaking the deadlock with a stunning curling effort in the 36th minute before he then calmly lofted the ball over Roma goalkeeper Alisson moments prior to half-time.
The 25-year-old moved closer to Ian Rush's Liverpool record of 47 goals in a single season, just days after he was crowned PFA Player of the Year.
"Outstanding," Klopp said of the forward. "Pretty much not to defend. The first 15 minutes we needed to adapt to the formation of the opponent and then we played how we played. He's a massive impact on that, of course.
"I like the other boys as well, but then the first goal is just a genius strike. He's scored already a few like this, so it makes it even more special. It's clear it's no coincidence. The second goal was brilliant play. And then he makes the other two goals, right?
"If you think he's the best in the world, write it or say it. He's in an outstandingly good shape, he's in a world-class shape, 100 percent. That's good.
"To be the best in the world you need to do that over a longer period, I think. There are a few others who are not too bad. He's a fantastic player and I'm really happy to have him."
On the decision to take Salah off, Klopp said: "If anybody wants to say that it was my mistake that we conceded two goals because I changed the striker, I have no problem with that.
"I cannot be only in one game. I thought we didn't prepare our passes that good anymore, so we shot them behind the line and Mo was running for all of them.
"That would not have helped us, to be honest, if he gets any injury. That was the reason for that. What a player. Good to have him."
The Liverpool manager says Tuesday's win was overshadowed by the injury suffered to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Klopp fears Oxlade-Chamberlain's season is over after he was stretchered off 18 minutes into the Roma game.
Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.