The Senegal international was on target once again as the Reds’ incredible streak continues
Andy Robertson hailed Sadio Mane as one of the world’s best after the Liverpool star helped his side maintain their lead at the top of the Premier League.
Mane was on target as the Reds recorded a 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday. Thanks to Roberto Firmino’s 85th-minute winner, Jurgen Klopp’s team remain eight points clear of second-placed Leicester, and nine ahead of champions Manchester City in third.
For Mane it was a 12th goal of the season, and his 29th of the calendar year – nine more than any other Liverpool player.
His importance to the Reds’ title challenge cannot be overstated, and Robertson believes the 27-year-old’s form means he deserves to be mentioned alongside the world’s top players.
“Especially this year he has been fantastic,” he said. “Even when I came to the club [in 2017] he was amazing but maybe did not have as much composure as he does now in front of goal. Now every time he is front of goal you don’t think he will miss.
“The one he had at the start of the second half when Hendo put him in, we were surprised he didn’t score. That is the type of player he is. You expect him to score and that is a good thing. He has popped up with another crucial goal.
“It has been a fantastic year for him and let’s hope he can keep going for a full season instead of a calendar year. That would help. The others are pitching in as well but it’s a fantastic year for him and he has taken his game to another level.
“Does he belong in the top bracket? I would say so. People are giving him more credit and that is deserved.
“Our front three gets talked about quite a lot. Maybe Bobby [Firmino] does not score as many as the other two but his work-rate is second to none and if he didn’t do what he does, Sadio and Mo [Salah] would not do what they do.
“Hopefully all three can keep going as we are not even halfway through the season and we need them to keep going.”
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Robertson himself had been a doubt for the Palace game due to an ongoing ankle issue, but managed to play through the pain barrier and complete 90 minutes in South London. No player, the Scot said, wants to miss out at the moment.
“It is still painful but you know…” Robertson said. “It is something that I gave time for it to improve. Keeping it moving will help it, and hopefully in time it will be better.
“I was desperate to play and the gaffer asked me if I was okay, I believed I was and luckily I got through the game.
“Me and Mo were in the same position. Mo was desperate to play as well, but the manager made the decision and Mo was fine and accepted it.
“You don’t want to miss any games but if it means him missing one game rather than six, this is a big difference. Sometimes you need to be a bit clever. I have come through, Mo was not needed although he was stripped and ready, then Bobby scored and he sat back down!
“Hopefully that will give him more time to settle and hopefully he will be fine for midweek.”
Reflecting on yet another late victory, Robertson delivered a wry smile.
“Scoring late is good and enjoyable but we would much rather be 2-0 or 3-0 up and see out the game!” he said.
“We cannot keep relying on it but it is good we have that mentality and we didn’t panic because we have been in this position so many times. I think that is why we took control of the game and scored the winner.
“We are 30 games unbeaten [in the league] but I would rather it was 30 this season rather than split over two seasons!
“But people can talk all they want. We know how tough this league is. Every time you go to an away ground they want to beat you. They know how long the record is at Anfield and they want to beat us there as well.
“Everyone wants to beat us. We are top of the league and everyone wants to catch us. That is the task we are facing but we have the mentality to keep that up.”