Alisson lays down Liverpool challenge after first back-to-back clean sheets since September

By Sports Desk December 11, 2019

Alisson has challenged Liverpool to sustain the defensive focus that has helped them secure back-to-back clean sheets for the first time since September.

The Champions League holders reached the last 16 on Tuesday thanks to a 2-0 win away to Salzburg, with Naby Keita and Mohamed Salah scoring the goals.

It was also Liverpool's second clean sheet in a row, following last Saturday's 3-0 Premier League win at Bournemouth, a result that leaves the Reds eight points clear at the top of the table.

Since losing the Community Shield on penalties in August, Klopp's side have only lost once in all competitions - a 2-0 defeat to Napoli in September - but their defence has nonetheless come under scrutiny following a run of 13 matches in which they conceded at least one goal.

However, with the Reds having now recorded consecutive clean sheets for the first time since victories over MK Dons and Sheffield United almost three months ago, Alisson - who played in neither of those September games - is eager to keep that run going.

"It was just a matter of time and of focus," the goalkeeper told Liverpoolfc.com when asked how their defence has improved.

"The last two games, we were focused for the full game. Even if they had chances we were there, the defenders were there, and I was there to help the team.

"We just need to keep going with this focus because we know our quality and we know what we can do on the pitch when we put in our whole intensity.

"You need to do that for 90 minutes – it's hard, we know, but I think we showed we can do this."

Alisson had to make a string of saves in the first half to keep Salzburg at bay before two goals in quick succession after the interval put Liverpool in control.

"In the first half they made our job more difficult with their intensity they put in," he said. "They had chances, of course, but we neutralised them in the chances, I could make the saves.

"I'm happy with the result and happy with what we did on the pitch.

"It was a difficult game for us, but we did very well, everybody playing together and moving together, defending in a good way and attacking in a good way.

"I'm glad about the score, I'm glad about the clean sheet – but the three points were the most important thing we needed."

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    The Bundesliga giants sealed a remarkable 8-2 win in Lisbon, with Muller on target twice to send Bayern into the semi-finals.

    A delighted Muller received the man of the match award following another exceptional display from the forward, who suggested Bayern's style of play rendered the opposition practically irrelevant.

    "I think in this moment our team is in incredible shape," the Germany international told BT Sport.

    "Thanks for the man of the match trophy – maybe we have 12 to 15 players who deserve it. We worked so hard and have this intensity. It's tough to beat us. It was so much fun.

    "For our style of play it doesn't matter about the names of players we are facing. When someone presses and dribbles, it's not a problem. Then we catch the ball and have so much talent in the offensive line.

    "We feel good, but now we have to be quiet and regenerate."

    Muller described the result as a major statement of intent, but he quickly pointed out that Hansi Flick's side would be starting from scratch in the next round, when they will face either Manchester City or Lyon.

    "This is a big statement but the next game we start at 0-0. The statement doesn't matter," said the 30-year-old.

    "The other teams will watch our game and they can be impressed or not. We start at 0-0 and have to win the next game.

    "Today we have to be very happy. After we wake up and answer the messages on the phone then we have to focus.

    "I know about these tournament situations. Most of the time after the big wins [Muller featured in Germany's 7-1 win over Brazil at the 2014 World Cup] it's difficult."

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    1 - Barcelona became the first team to ship four goals in the first half of a Champions League knockout game since Porto conceded five to Bayern in April 2015, in the second leg of a quarter-final.

    3 - Three of the coaches in the semi-finals will be German, with Bayern's Hansi Flick joining RB Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann and Paris Saint-Germain's Thomas Tuchel. The Champions League has never before seen three head coaches from a single nation represented in the semi-finals.

    5 - Robert Lewandowski became the fifth player in European Cup or Champions League history to score in eight consecutive games, and the first from Bayern to achieve the feat.

    6 - Thomas Muller has now scored more goals in the Champions League against Barcelona than any other player. His fifth and sixth came before the break, meaning Muller has overtaken Andriy Shevchenko, who netted five in his career against Barca. This is just Muller's fifth appearance against Barcelona in the competition.

    7 - Barcelona had just seven shots in the entire match.

    8 - Bayern became the first team to score eight times in a Champions League knockout game, while Barcelona conceded eight for the first time since losing 8-0 to Sevilla in the Copa del Rey in 1946.

    23 - Muller's double took him to 23 career goals in the Champions League knockout stages, and he stands third on that list behind Cristiano Ronaldo (67) and Messi (47).

    29 - Barcelona's oldest XI for a Champions League match was picked apart. Their average age was 29 years and 329 days, and Barca looked like veterans as they were repeatedly carved open.

    31 - Bayern's fourth goal arrived in the 31st minute, making it the earliest point of a Champions League knockout game by which a team has scored four.

    50 - Lewandowski reached 50 Champions League goals for Bayern in what was his 60th game for the German giants in the competition. That is a record only ever bettered in the competition by Ronaldo, who reached the landmark in 50 games for Real Madrid.

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