Virgil van Dijk paid tribute to Liverpool team-mate Roberto Firmino for his impressive display off the bench in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Newcastle United – and is grateful he does not have to play against the Brazilian.
Firmino played two matches for his country in the United States during the international break and, with Liverpool beginning their Champions League defence away to Napoli next week, Jurgen Klopp opted to rest the forward.
But an injury to Divock Origi in the first half saw Firmino introduced earlier than planned and he had a swift impact, playing the pass that led to Sadio Mane’s second goal.
He then claimed a delightful assist with an outrageous flick for Mohamed Salah’s clincher 18 minutes from time and Van Dijk was impressed.
The attack. The assist. The goal. pic.twitter.com/G2SfZTSr3O
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 14, 2019
“He is a very important player for all of us,” Van Dijk told BT Sport. “I know how difficult it is for a defender when the striker drops his position.
“He is making life difficult for any defender in the world, I think. He is so good and I am very happy he is on my team.”
Andrew Robertson was similarly complimentary of Firmino, particularly with the assist for Salah that made sure of all three points.
“It was a special goal,” he added to BBC Sport. “Bobby’s [Firmino] vision is frightening and Mo’s [Salah] finished it off. Winning 3-1 after a tough international break is always a good result.”