Liverpool matchwinner Trent Alexander-Arnold does not have to “prove anything”, said boss Jurgen Klopp who wanted to focus on their “massive” 2-1 win over Aston Villa.
Alexander-Arnold, left out of the recent England squad, scored in the last minute as the Reds ended a six-game losing run at Anfield.
“It was massive, it felt massive to win. A real relief,” said Klopp.
“We needed that win today, these three points feel big.”
Ollie Watkins gave Villa the lead, before Mohamed Salah equalised with Liverpool’s first goal in open play at Anfield in 2021 – and Alexander-Arnold curled home from 20 yards in the final minute.
England boss Gareth Southgate was watching after leaving him out for England’s first World Cup qualifiers.
Alexander-Arnold, 22, was at fault for one of Real Madrid’s goals in their 3-1 win in the Champions League quarter-final first leg on Tuesday.
His goal against Villa was only his second of the season – coupled with six assists. Last season he scored four and set up 15.
None of the three right-backs in the England squad have more goals – or assists – this season although none have conceded more than 25 goals. Liverpool have let in 42 goals during Alexander-Arnold’s time on the pitch.
“I don’t think he has to prove anything, to be honest,” Klopp told BBC Sport. “You can play the best season of your life and the coach of the national team has to make decisions and we respect that.
“The only thing Trent is doing is playing his best football. In the last 10 days, twice he’s played outstanding and now he scores a goal. The most important thing is we stop talking about it.”
James Milner, who was Liverpool’s captain in the game, said: “It says a lot about his character. People forget how young is he, such a young age.
“He’s been very fortunate in his career so far, so being left out of the England squad is probably one of his first disappointments.”
‘We have no time to waste’
Liverpool’s win briefly took them up into the Champions League places – although Chelsea moved back into fourth place with a 4-1 win over Crystal Palace.
The Reds had lost six in a row at Anfield – scoring one penalty in that time – and failed to win in eight. Salah’s goal ended a 765-minute and 132-shot goalless run from open play at their home ground.
“I can’t remember the last time we did it easy but it’s fine in our situation after losing six home games,” said Klopp.
“Aston Villa are a really good team. You play a good game, a really good game, then you can see it with your first half mistake.
“In the end, when you’re 1-0 down, the only thing that counts is to score a goal, which we did. It was a great goal, really nice and the second goal was even nicer.
“All we have to do is put the other teams under pressure and win games. We have no time to waste, it’s so important to score in the moment and it’s exactly why we’re doing this.”
‘Nobody wants an offside given by an armpit’
Liverpool were denied an equaliser just before the break with another offside decision by the video assistant referee invisible to the naked eye.
A long check ruled that Diogo Jota was just offside when he received Alexander-Arnold’s pass, before Roberto Firmino fired home.
“You score a goal which is disallowed for… I don’t know what,” said Klopp. “You go in at half-time and you think ‘what’s going on here?'”
Milner said: “I think if you ask a lot of players, nobody wants an offside given by an armpit or an ear. Level seems to have gone out of the game.”