Jurgen Klopp hails ‘exceptional’ Liverpool star for pocketing Zlatan Ibrahimovic

AC Milan's Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Front) holds back Liverpool's French defender Ibrahima Konate during the UEFA Champions League Group B football match between AC Milan and Liverpool on December 7, 2021 at the San Siro stadium in Milan. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP) (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)

Ibrahima Konate came out on top in his battle with Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AFP via Getty)

Jurgen Klopp has called Ibrahima Konate’s performance against Zlatan Ibrahimovic ‘exceptional’ in Liverpool’s victory over AC Milan in the Champions League.

Liverpool had already secured top spot in Group B ahead of their final game at San Siro but went behind against AC Milan following Fikayo Tomori’s opener.

Goals from Mohamed Salah and Divock Origi sealed the victory for Klopp’s side, meanwhile Konate delivered an impressive display at the back against Ibrahimovic.

The Swede was restricted to just two shots all game and failed to register a shot on target as Konate dominated at the heart of Liverpool’s defence.

And Klopp says he was impressed with the partnership of Konate and Nat Phillips, who was making only his third appearance of the season.

When asked how Liverpool stopped the service to Ibrahimovic, Klopp replied: ‘That’s football actually, that’s what you try, you organise a football team like that, that he cannot get the balls he needs or he wants.

MILAN, ITALY - DECEMBER 07: Zlatan Ibrahimovic of AC Milan battles for possession with Ibrahima Konate of Liverpool during the UEFA Champions League group B match between AC Milan and Liverpool FC at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on December 07, 2021 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Ibrahima Konate was ‘exceptional’ against Zlatan Ibrahimovic, says Jurgen Klopp (Getty)

‘I really thought we defended exceptionally well. The plan of Milan is playing through the centre obviously, playing through the half-spaces. This is the spaces between the winger and our eights.

‘They don’t play immediately to Zlatan, they try to bring it to the other offensive player in these spaces, and we made that really complicated because of the disciplined work of all the players.

‘When you then get only the other balls, not the controlled ones then it’s easier to defend. But I have to say that Nat Phillips and Ibou Konate played an exceptional game, an absolutely exceptional game.

‘How they defended that tonight is outstanding and I am really, really proud of the boys.’

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