The pair now sit alongside the Manchester United greats as the most productive double act in European competition’s history
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane accentuated their reputation as one of the Champions League’s most deadly partnerships on Wednesday, as Liverpool silenced Villarreal 2-0 at Anfield.
Two minutes after the Reds took the lead courtesy of Pervis Estupinan’s own goal, the Egyptian combined to allow Mane to double the advantage to help Jurgen Klopp’s men secure a comfortable win ahead of the semi-final reverse fixture billed for the Estadio de la Ceramica.
That was the seventh time Salah and Mane combined for a goal in the European competition, the joint-most of any duo for English teams in the competition, equalling Wayne Rooney & Ryan Giggs and Mohamed Salah & Roberto Firmino.
The Senegal international in particular had reason to jubilate, with his strike seeing him match Didier Drogba as the African with the most goals (14) in the Champions League’s history.
Liverpool’s African connection was a huge part of the Anfield giants’ successful period that saw them win the Champions League, Premier League, Uefa Super Cup and Fifa Club World Cup between 2018 to 2019.
Both players alongside former Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang shared the English elite division’s Golden Boot in the 2018-19 campaign – the second time three players shared the accolade after Michael Owen (Liverpool), Dwight Yorke (Manchester United), and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (Leed United) in the 1998-99 term.
The partnership between Salah and Mane could be crucial as Jurgen Klopp’s side chase a quadruple in the current season.
In his post-match reaction, manager Klopp praised his team’s display against Unai Emery’s Yellow Submarine.
“The way we played and the way we defended Villarreal, the way we attacked Villarreal. You have to score goals, that’s clear, football is the same,” the German tactian told the club website.
“I liked the first half already, it was clear we had to keep going. What I like most about Villarreal is that even when they are under pressure, when there is one moment they can get out of the pressure they are immediately a threat.
“Immediately passes in the centre and we had to put a lot of players, obviously, on the wing to try to win the ball.
“If you don’t win the ball there then obviously you are all of a sudden in between everything and we did that most of the time really well. So 2-0, half-time, no more, no less.”
Prior to the second leg on May 3, Liverpool take on Newcastle United in a league fixture.