Jordan Henderson hailed Liverpool's resolve after they overcame the loss of Mohamed Salah to emerge as FA Cup Final victors with a 6-5 penalty shoot-out win over Chelsea.

The Reds made it two domestic final triumphs from two against the Blues this season, as they overcame the London club in the tension of another sudden death shoot-out at Wembley on Saturday.

Konstantinos Tsimikas was the hero after Alisson saved Mason Mount's spot-kick following a goalless encounter, adding the only missing major honour to Jurgen Klopp's Anfield trophy cabinet.

Victory also keeps the prospect of an unprecedented quadruple alive - though Liverpool would need Manchester City to slip up in the Premier League, with the Champions League final still against Real Madrid to come.

The Merseyside club suffered a big blow when Salah was forced off just after the half-hour mark through injury.

Coupled with the loss of talismanic midfielder Fabinho for the final and with Virgil van Dijk not fit to return to the field for extra time, the Reds needed to show their mettle - and captain Henderson felt there was plenty of that on show.

"It was difficult, we knew it would be," the England international told BBC Two. "We've had so many games in a short space of time.

"It was a big blow with Mo going off and Fab last week. But that's what we're all about, the attitude and mentality to keep going and to dig in when it's tough.

"We're here to lift trophies, we work so hard all season. To come here and get over the line means a lot to everyone. The fans deserve it, the whole club.

"It's a big moment for us, we haven't been in this final for some time so to win it was special. It's fine margins, especially in finals, as we know in the last two.

"We've just got to give everything, like we always do. We've got to work for each other and play with the players that we've got.

"It's incredible some of the talent we have got in the dressing room and the personalities. You put that together and you win trophies really."

Henderson - who is the first player to appear in FA Cup finals a decade apart for the same club since David O'Leary for Arsenal in 1993 - will now focus on the last three games of the season.

Back-to-back Premier League encounters with Southampton and Wolves are to come, before a Champions League final rematch with Madrid in Paris that will see the Reds aim for revenge for their 2018 defeat.

"We've won two so far this season. We've still got some big games left. We just need to keep on going right until the end and see what we can finish on," Henderson added.

"We've got to recover quickly, another big game on Tuesday against Southampton, we have to be ready for that. Then [it is] Wolves at the weekend, and then the Champions League final.

"We have three big games left and hopefully we can win all three and finish the season on a high."

Goalkeeper Alisson hopes the Reds can use their latest Wembley triumph into momentum for further silverware.

"This gives us more confidence in the Premier League and also the Champions League final," he told BBC One.

"[But] It's a fantastic moment now, we just need to enjoy It's amazing, we did such a good performance. It was a shame we didn't score.

"It was a proper fight, we kept a clean sheet, and then afterwards the boys were unbelievable scoring the goals. I just had to save the last one."

Both Alisson and opposite number Edouard Mendy made a save apiece in the shoot-out, with the latter denying Senegal team-mate Sadio Mane to force sudden death in the shoot-out.

Cesar Azpilicueta also failed to find three back of the net, as the Chelsea skipper rattled the post.

Alisson was quick to pay tribute to his fellow goalkeeper, adding: "Myself and Mendy [made] amazing saves.

"[But] I couldn't have done the saves without the help of the team. They work well and make it easier for me. All goalkeeper coaches, they help me with the decisions."

Liverpool left back Andrew Robertson said he and his team-mates are "enjoying" their hectic schedule as they earned a 2-0 first leg lead in their Champions League semi-final against Villarreal.

An own goal and a Sadio Mane strike, both early in the second half, was enough for Jurgen Klopp's men to secure a decent cushion ahead of next Tuesday's second leg in Spain.

Villarreal frustrated Liverpool at Anfield in the first half, but were unable to stop them from winning their ninth Champions League match of the season, the most games the Reds have ever won in a single campaign in European competition (excluding qualifiers).

Speaking to BT Sport after the win, captain Jordan Henderson praised the visitors, and said staying "positive" was key for Liverpool.

"Yeah, very organised team," Henderson said about Unai Emery's side. "We knew they'd make it difficult, but it was important that we just kept going, stay positive and we had the confidence that if we did that, kept moving the ball quickly, we'd eventually break them down, and we did that with two good goals."

It was Henderson's cross that deflected in off Pervis Estupinan to finally break the deadlock, and when told it had deflected, the England international jokingly replied: "Did it? I thought it went straight in!

"Yeah a little bit lucky, but it was good play, good build up... But, you need a little bit of luck against teams with a low block. We got that with the first and thankfully we got another one."

Liverpool had 19 shots to Villarreal's one on a dominant night for the Reds. The Yellow Submarine's one shot, which missed the target, is the joint-fewest by any side in a Champions League semi-final according to Opta since this data has been available (2003-04), along with Inter v Barcelona in 2009-10.

Robertson was also asked by BT Sport about the game, and he was keen to point out that the players are enjoying themselves, with an unprecedented quadruple of the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and EFL Cup still possible.

"We had quite a few chances in the first half, just trying to break them down and keep doing what we were doing," the Scotland captain said. "The first goal always kind of does that [gives you a boost], we then had a bit of momentum. The noise in here was incredible after the first goal and that kind of took us to the second one.

"We'd have liked to add maybe one more, it wasn't meant to be but a clean sheet and two goals? We can't argue with that.

"You have to [work hard], it's the semi-final of the Champions League. If you can't run about for 90 minutes in this kind of game then when will you?

"Our intensity's been really high the last couple of games, we've had a real hectic schedule and we're enjoying it. I think you seen that today.

"There's still a lot of work to do in this tie, but we're happy with our work tonight."

Also asked about not getting frustrated by a stubborn Villarreal defence, Robertson added: "That was the message from Hendo at half-time, just saying we were playing well first half, probably some of the best we've played and we didn't get a goal for it, but we kept going, kept trying to be patient and luckily with a big deflection (smiling at Henderson), we managed to get the breakthrough."

Liverpool are in the driving seat of their Champions League semi-final against Villarreal after a 2-0 win at Anfield on Wednesday.

A game that was never likely to match the excitement of Tuesday's seven-goal thriller between Manchester City and Real Madrid finally came to life in the second half as an own goal from Pervis Estupinan and a Sadio Mane strike sealed a strong first-leg advantage for the Reds.

Unai Emery's side defended resolutely for much of the game, managing to get to half-time goalless, but they were ultimately undone by some typically fast attacking from Jurgen Klopp's team in the second half.

This was Liverpool's 12th European Cup or Champions League semi-final, with no English side playing in the final four more often (level with Manchester United), and was also the first time the Reds have played in the semi-finals of the EFL Cup, FA Cup and European Cup in the same campaign, and it was that experience of the big occasion that ultimately shone through.

It was a tentative start from the home side, though Mane will have expected to do better with a header when found by a neat cross from Mohamed Salah early on with the Senegalese forward directing his effort wide.

Thiago Alcantara came as close as anyone to breaking the deadlock in the first half with a shot from almost 30 yards that crashed against the left-hand post, but the visitors did a good job of frustrating the Premier League side in the opening 45 minutes.

An electric beginning to the second half from Klopp's side finally saw them take the lead in the 53rd minute, with Jordan Henderson's cross from the right taking a fortunate deflection off the foot of Estupinan and flying past Rulli at his near post.

Another arrived just two minutes later as a good passing move ended with Salah sliding a ball through to Mane, who prodded under the goalkeeper to make it 2-0 to the Reds.

The Yellow Submarine avoided further damage but have it all to do when the two meet again in the second leg at the El Madrigal next Tuesday.

What does it mean? Liverpool show patience to break through, again

Liverpool finally overcame a determined Everton in the Merseyside derby on Sunday, it was said to be perfect preparation for Villarreal, who were always going to come to Anfield to frustrate in the first leg.

That proved to be the case as, like with the Toffees, Villarreal kept Liverpool at bay in the first half, running down the clock, blocking all attacks and keeping their net unbothered.

However, the relentless Reds again managed to force a couple of second half goals, having had 19 shots in all, facing just one solitary effort from the visitors.

Thiago once again shines in the middle

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich midfielder has been purring in Liverpool's midfield in recent games, and he was on form again here as he helped to dissect a stubborn opposition.

Thiago completed 99 of 103 passes (96.1 per cent), enjoying a fantastic pass completion percentage in the opposition's half of 94.1 from 68 attempts. He also made more interceptions than anyone (five) and gained possession 10 times in all.

More English misery for Yellow Submarine

Emery's men put up a brave fight but eventually succumbed to a strong and determined Liverpool team, and it maintained a poor record for Villarreal in England.

Since a 2-1 victory on Merseyside against Everton in August 2005, Villarreal have not managed to win any of their last nine away games in England in all competitions (drawn three, lost six), having also tasted defeat at Manchester United in the group stages earlier this season.

What’s next?

Liverpool travel to Newcastle United on Saturday as they resume their title chase in the Premier League, while Villarreal are away to Deportivo Alaves on the same day.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich midfielder has been purring in Liverpool's midfield in recent games, and he was on form again here as he helped to dissect a stubborn opposition.

Jurgen Klopp has made three changes to his starting line-up for Liverpool's Champions League semi-final first leg against Villarreal.

With his side having claimed a 2-0 Merseyside derby victory over Everton last time out, the German has looked to freshen things up in defence, midfield and attack.

As has become customary during two-game weeks this season, Ibrahima Konate comes into the centre of defence to replace Joel Matip.

In the centre of the park, the captain Jordan Henderson takes the place of Naby Keita.

And up top, January signing Luis Diaz joins Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, with Diogo Jota dropping to the bench.

Roberto Firmino is not among the substitutes as he recovers from injury, while Curtis Jones and Kostas Tsimikas are both out with illness.

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Thiago, Henderson, Salah, Mane, Diaz.

Jurgen Klopp expressed his delight at Liverpool progressing to the Champions League semi-finals, despite the Reds enduring a nervy finish against Benfica at Anfield.

The six-time European champions advanced to the last four of the competition for the 12th time in their history after a 3-3 draw sealed a 6-4 aggregate victory over the Primeira Liga side.

The German coach made seven changes to the side that started the entertaining 2-2 draw with Manchester City on Sunday.

Nevertheless, the hosts established a 3-1 lead on the day thanks to Roberto Firmino's brace, after Goncalo Ramos cancelled out Ibrahima Konate's first-half header.

Late goals from Roman Yaremchuk and Darwin Nunez set up a nervy climax at Anfield, but it was not enough to deny the Reds a third Champions League semi-final appearance under Klopp.

He told BT Sport: "The day we qualify for the Champions League semi-final, and I'm not happy, please come and knock me out!

"We made seven changes. The situation was the last line had never played together, and it was about details, staying 100 per cent concentrated.

"It was not exactly what we wanted, but it is absolutely not important because if we played the best game of the season tonight, it wouldn't have made it more likely to get to the final. 

"We are through and that's all that matters, and I'm really happy."

Liverpool, who won the EFL Cup earlier this season, set up a semi-final showdown with Villarreal as they remained on course to complete a quadruple.

Still a point behind Premier League leaders Man City with seven games remaining, the Reds also face Pep Guardiola’s side in the FA Cup semi-finals this weekend.

Skipper Jordan Henderson added: "We did well, but we're disappointed with the goals we conceded.

"[Villarreal have] knocked out good sides [Juventus and Bayern Munich]. They're a very good team, and it will be a difficult tie. 

"We need to be ready to give it everything and hopefully, we can progress to the final.

"We want to do our best in every competition. We want to give a big push to compete in all of them."

Captain Jordan Henderson was delighted with Liverpool's character after they twice came from behind in an absorbing 2-2 draw with Premier League title rivals Manchester City.

The England midfielder was nevertheless disappointed with the Reds' defending as an absorbing draw kept Jurgen Klopp's team one point behind City at the summit, with seven rounds of games remaining.

Liverpool are now winless in their last five Premier League matches against City (three draws, two losses), their joint-longest run without a victory against them along with a five-game run between November 2011 and December 2013.

However, Henderson was keen to stress the importance of remaining in touch with Guardiola's men after Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane cancelled out goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus.

"It was an intense game, which we knew it would be," Henderson said. "We knew it would be tough coming here, they're a fantastic team, but we wanted to come here and give everything to try and get the win.

"Unfortunately, we couldn't do that, but at the same time, we didn't lose the game. Of course, we wanted to do better, but it's not the end of the world, we're still in the race. [There are] positives and negatives."

Liverpool were second-best for much of the first half at the Etihad Stadium, twice going behind and seeing the likes of Raheem Sterling and De Bruyne miss chances to extend City's lead.

However, the Reds skipper commended the response to going behind, with Mane's goal levelling the game at 2-2 just 46 seconds after the break.

"I think we started okay, but we were a bit hectic at times, trying to clear it rather than getting it down and trying to play, and we gave them one or two chances early on," Henderson told Sky Sports.

"We knew we were going to come under pressure early on. They're a fantastic team, and we knew they'd come out fast.

"After they scored we settled down, started playing more, and that caused them one or two problems, and we ended up getting the goal from that.

"That was pleasing, how we've come twice from behind. It takes a lot of character to do that here, but we wanted to do better with the [City] goals."

Mane's goal marked the first time Liverpool had scored in the opening minute of the second half in a Premier League game since January 2019 (Mohamed Salah against Crystal Palace), and the first time City have conceded a league goal in the 46th minute since doing so to Norwich City's Damien Francis in November 2004.

After the two teams drew by the same scoreline at Anfield earlier in the campaign, City and Liverpool have drawn both of their Premier League meetings for the first time since doing so in the 2012-13 season, but Henderson refused to be drawn on whether the result helped City more than the Reds.

"We'll have to wait and see [if the draw was better for City], I suppose," he added.

"They don't drop many points, we know that, but for us, we've got to concentrate on ourselves, win as many games as possible, and if they do slip up we've got to be there right behind them.

"It's not the end of the world, we'll stay positive and keep going until the end."

Gabriel Jesus and Phil Foden were recalled to Manchester City's starting line-up for Sunday's Premier League clash against Liverpool, with the Reds making three changes.

Brazil international Jesus made his first league start since City's New Year's Day win against Arsenal in place of the benched Riyad Mahrez.

Foden made an instant impact from the substitutes' bench by assisting Kevin De Bruyne's winner against Atletico Madrid in midweek and was rewarded with a place in the XI.

He had scored in each of his past three top-flight games against Liverpool, including a goal in October's 2-2 draw at Anfield in the reverse fixture.

Kyle Walker was also included from the beginning, with Ilkay Gundogan and Nathan Ake the other two players to make way from City's European win against Atletico.

Ruben Dias missed out through injury as expected, meaning John Stones again partnered Aymeric Laporte in the heart of defence at the Etihad Stadium.

Liverpool also brought in three new faces from their 3-1 Champions League win against Benfica in midweek for what was billed as a likely Premier League title decider.

Diogo Jota replaced Luis Diaz alongside Sadio Mane and the out-of-form Mohamed Salah up top, while skipper Jordan Henderson took over from Naby Keita in midfield.

Salah had scored in four of his last five Premier League games against Man City, including each of his last three in a row.

The Reds' other change saw Joel Matip recalled alongside Virgil van Dijk in place of Ibrahima Konate.

Liverpool entered the contest on a 10-game winning run in the Premier League, which had seen them close the gap on the leaders to just a point ahead of Sunday's huge clash.

City had lost just one of their past 12 home league games against Liverpool ahead of their latest showdown, going down 4-1 at the Etihad in November 2015.

The Reds were also without a clean sheet in any of their past 11 Premier League away meetings with City since a goalless draw in February 2010.

Man City XI: Ederson; Walker, Cancelo, Stones, Laporte; De Bruyne, Rodri, Silva; Sterling, Foden, Jesus.

Subs: Steffen, Mahrez, Zinchenko, Fernandinho, McAtee, Lavia, Grealish, Gundogan, Ake.

Liverpool XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Jota.

Subs: Kelleher, Jones, Tsimikas, Konate, Gomez, Milner, Keita, Firmino, Diaz.

Harry Kane has launched a staunch defence of under-fire England team-mate Harry Maguire after the defender was jeered by fans, describing the reception as "just not right".

Manchester United captain Maguire started Tuesday's 3-0 win over Ivory Coast at Wembley, where goals from Ollie Watkins, Raheem Sterling and Tyrone Mings sealed victory for the hosts.

Despite having been a key figure under Gareth Southgate, even earning a spot in the UEFA Team of the Tournament for his performances at Euro 2020, Maguire has become a target for the boo boys in club and international colours.

Southgate labelled the reaction "an absolute joke", and Kane took to Twitter on Wednesday to echo those sentiments, adding that Maguire had the full backing of his international team-mates.

"We’ve worked hard to rebuild our connection with England fans in the last few years so to hear Harry Maguire booed at Wembley before kick-off was just not right," the Tottenham striker tweeted.

"The fact that he's been brilliant on the pitch and given us all so many great memories makes it even harder to understand. He doesn't deserve that reception.

"He's got full support in the changing room and should have the same from every England fan."

 

Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson also offered his support to Maguire via social media.

"I can't get my head around what happened at Wembley tonight," he wrote on Twitter.

"Harry Maguire has been a colossus for England. Without him, the progress made at the last two tournaments would not have been possible.​

"To be booed at his home stadium, for no reason? What have we become? What happened tonight was just wrong. As someone who wants to win with England, I feel fortunate to share a dressing room with him.

"We all feel the same!"

England manager Gareth Southgate said Italy's failure to qualify for the World Cup shows how well his team have done since their agonising Euro 2020 final defeat.

The Azzurri were shocked by North Macedonia in the play-off semi-final on Thursday, losing 1-0 in Palermo to a stoppage time goal from Aleksandar Trajkovski, and will now miss their second consecutive World Cup.

Southgate suffered at the hands of Italy last year as he saw his Three Lions team beaten on penalties at Wembley in the final of Euro 2020, but while Roberto Mancini's team were unable to book their place in Qatar, England eased through their group, winning five and drawing two of their World Cup qualifiers since losing to the Azzurri.

Speaking at a media conference ahead of Saturday's friendly against Switzerland, Southgate said: "It was a big surprise [Italy losing]. It's clear that sometimes teams have a cycle. Whether that was the cycle or the after effects of the [Euro 2020] final and the emotion of it and everything else.

"I think that's where our players did so well, to recover from the emotion of the final and to perform as they did in the autumn was absolutely fantastic. I think qualifying is [easily underestimated], so I suspect looking at the results and performances, the way they went, Italy were in that position."

Jordan Henderson joined Southgate in front of the media, and also refused to celebrate the Italians' misfortune, saying when asked if the result made him smile: "Not really, to be honest. I'm just concentrated on what we need to do and teams that will be in the World Cup.

"I think what that does show is how difficult qualification can be. I think sometimes that's taken for granted and it's expected that you qualify for a World Cup or a Euros, so [Italy's loss is] proof that if you're not 100 per cent at it, you can be punished."

Southgate also revealed that the three debutants called up to his latest squad, Kyle Walker-Peters, Tyrick Mitchell and Marc Guehi, are likely to get minutes against either Switzerland or the Ivory Coast in the next week.

"Emile [Smith Rowe] didn't train today, so I would think unlikely he'll be involved tomorrow," he said. "Raheem [Sterling] is absolutely fine, it was a shame to lose Bukayo [Saka, following a COVID-19 test].

"We're going to have debuts this week for sure, whether it's tomorrow or Tuesday."

Mohamed Salah has assured Jurgen Klopp the injury that forced him out of Liverpool's win at Brighton and Hove Albion is nothing to worry about.

Talisman Salah struck Liverpool's 2,000th Premier League goal to give the Reds a 2-0 lead at the Amex Stadium on Saturday, but he was substituted shortly afterwards.

Liverpool have a trip to Arsenal coming up on Wednesday, and manager Klopp would want Salah available for that tussle with Mikel Arteta's team.

"We will see," Klopp said on BT Sport. "He thinks it's not serious, but you can see when Mo Salah's sitting down that something's not 100 per cent right.

"I think it was a situation before when he hit the ball and got blocked. I think the foot got slightly overstretched. We have to see."

Luis Diaz had earlier put Liverpool ahead with a brave header, as Klopp's team cut Manchester City's lead at the top of the table to three points.

Captain Jordan Henderson said: "It was a real big game for us today and I felt as though we delivered.

"You always want that second goal to try to kill the game off a little bit more. We had one or two more chances, half-chances, to score. Overall, I think we would be very pleased with the overall performance."

Looking at the shrinking gap to City, Henderson said: "We speak about this every week. We're concentrating on ourselves, concentrating on the next game. That's important and it's worked really well for us. The focus has always been the next game, no matter what competition, and to give everything in that game and there's no reason to change that now."

Confidence is surging through Liverpool's ranks, with the cautious belief they are in great shape to sustain this challenge.

"We've felt like this for a long time," Henderson told BT Sport. "We know we've got to work and improve all the time, be better. The teams around us at the top of the table are fantastic teams, so you can never relax, and you can never take the foot off the gas.

"You've always got to push each other, drive each other on, and so far we've been doing that and we've got to continue that right to the end."

Assessing Diaz's display, Henderson described the January recruit as "top class". The winger headed the opener but was flattened by goalkeeper Robert Sanchez in doing so, with the Brighton man avoiding punishment.

"I think he's obviously a little bit late, but Luis has done so well to get there first," Henderson said.

Virgil van Dijk and Jordan Henderson both hailed Liverpool's "special" EFL Cup triumph over Chelsea after sealing a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory on Sunday.

An enthralling final that saw both teams have goals disallowed had to be settled from the spot, and after a run of 21 successful spot-kicks, Chelsea's substitute goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga blazed over the bar to hand the Reds record success in the competition.

Van Dijk netted the Red's third kick of the shoot-out but he was instrumental in another of the match's key turning points.

Joel Matip had a second-half goal disallowed after his centre-back partner was ruled offside when blocking defender Reece James.

Speaking to Sky Sports after lifting the trophy, Van Dijk praised his team's maturity and work-rate but expressed his confusion at the decision to disallow Matip's goal.

"[It was] very special," the 30-year-old said of the victory.

"There was a lot of hard work, as we expected before the game, a lot of calm nerves [needed]. The penalties overall were all quite good apart from the last one [from Kepa].

"We have matured and been through quite a lot over the last two seasons, the way we play and additions we have made.

"It was an intense game and offside goals were also a thing, and that rule of playing on until whenever [when an offside call is tight] is annoying. It is something we have to consider taking out for next season.

"I told the ref I don't understand [the offside decision]. I wasn't even participating, the ball went over my head and I did not even go for the ball. It is a game of challenges, and you are allowed to block a move. 

"I think when Manchester United played away at Burnley [in a Premier League draw earlier this month], there was a similar thing that was also disallowed and I don't understand it."

Liverpool's "one club mentality" has been proven by their run to the EFL Cup final, according to Jurgen Klopp's assistant Pep Lijnders.

Reds assistant coach Lijnders has taken all of the pre-match news conferences ahead of EFL Cup games this season and Liverpool saw no reason to break with that tradition ahead of Sunday's clash with Chelsea at Wembley.

It will be the third major final between the sides, with Chelsea winning the previous two meetings – 3-2 in the 2004-05 EFL Cup and 2-1 in the 2011-12 FA Cup.

Liverpool, however, are in the hunt for a record ninth EFL Cup crown, with their last success in the competition coming in 2012 via a penalty shoot-out win over Cardiff City. This is their 13th final in the competition – at least four more than any other side – though their first since 2016, when they lost to Manchester City.

Lijnders believes Liverpool have blended youth and experience perfectly throughout their run to Wembley, and thinks this is a sign the Reds are now a truly elite club.

"We have tradition in both, history in both [cup competitions]," he said.

"This is a competition where we want to bring young talent to showcase, that's really important.

"If you look at the best teams in the world, what do they have in common? It is the one club mentality and this journey in the EFL Cup shows we have exactly that.

"Now we are two days away from a final and we want to go into it with all we have, make it a proper game, we can't wait of course to go to Wembley, see all the fans, hear them, feel them.

"For the whole club it is a big compliment. This competition is so much more than just the first team, it was a proper compliment to our academy as well.

"We have to be spot on but we really look forward to it. We don't want to be the best team in the world, but we want to be the team that is capable of the best teams in the world."

Lijnders has come more into the foreground this season, at least in terms of his media duties, but he emphasised the importance of Klopp's entire backroom team as Liverpool aim to win a third major trophy under the German.

"Jurgen is so much more than a colleague, I am really grateful and happy with the way we work together," Lijnders added.

"It's not just me and him, it's so much more backroom staff who constantly are in our ears to make decisions or put us to the right path. Our togetherness comes from something.

"If you have a group of staff that show leadership it is probably the most powerful tool, we want our team to see how we are and it is important that they see that the manager, assistant manager, the other assistants, all of us are so close. There's a team behind the team and a manager is as good as the team behind the team."

Liverpool, however, will not be changing their routine just because they are playing in a final.

"When we started this project, we came to the conclusion that the way to be successful was just to focus on the next game," Lijnders said.

"Our group created the mentality that each next game was a final, or we could never have reached the levels we reached. We see each game literally as a final so nothing changes. We really see each game as a final, believe me."

It was a sentiment echoed by captain Jordan Henderson, who said: "Nothing different to what I normally do. Yes, it's a cup final, you get everything around that, but you have to treat it as any other game. We'll give everything, hopefully that's enough for us to win the trophy."

Great Britain flagbearer Dave Ryding takes to the slopes on Wednesday, as he looks to seal the nation's first medal at the Beijing Winter Olympics.

And he has the support of Liverpool and England footballer Jordan Henderson.

There are two finals in the men's freestyle skiing, too, while Finland and Switzerland's women go for bronze in the ice hockey.

Medals are up for grabs in the biathlon, cross-country skiing and short track speed skating. Here, Stats Perform looks at the main events to come on Wednesday.

Alpine ski

It has been a frustrating Games so far for Team GB, with no medals recorded as of yet. However, one of their big hopes will go for glory in the men's slalom.

Ryding, 35, made history by winning the first World Cup title for Great Britain just prior to the Games. However, he is one of six different winners in the six World Cup slalom events held so far this season, meaning the Olympic field is wide open.

But, he has the full backing of not only Team GB, but his beloved Liverpool, whose captain Henderson sent a message of support to Ryding.

"I just wanted to send you a quick message to say big congratulations on the win and all the very best in Beijing," Henderson said in the video message.

"I hope it goes well. It's nice to hear you are a big Liverpool fan. I hope to see you at Anfield when you get back. Take care mate, good luck.”

Sebastian Foss-Solevag, the 2021 world champion, must be considered among the favourites. 

Biathlon

Belarus will be looking to defend their title from 2018 in the women's 4x6km relay, though Sweden and France – silver and bronze medallists respectively in Pyeongchang – are also contenders.

Sweden are the current World Cup leaders, with Norway second and France third, with Belarus down in fifth place.

Cross-country skiing

There are two medal events in cross-country skiing on Wednesday, in the men's and women's team sprints.

The United States are the reigning women's champions, while Norway hold the title in the men's. Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo is part of the team, and he is hunting a fourth medal in Beijing.

Freestyle skiing

Likewise, six more athletes will win medals in freestyle skiing. The men's freeski slopestyle final is perfectly poised. Switzerland's Andri Ragettli topped the qualifying standings, but only just ahead of big air gold medallist Birk Ruud, while reigning Olympic champion Nicholas Goepper came third, with fellow Americans Alex Hall and Colby Stevenson finishing in the top six too.

Another American, Chris Lillis, is going for gold in the men's aerials. He helped the United States to victory in mixed team aerials last week.

Ukrainian Oleksandr Abramenko will be out to defend his title, though World Cup leader Maxim Burov is the favourite.

Short track speed skating

Canada, Italy, China, South Korea and the Russian Olympic Committee will battle it out for a podium place in the men's 5000m relay, with 2018 champions Hungary having failed to make the cut.

In the women's 1500m, South Korea are again well represented, with reigning champion and world record holder Choi Min-jeong involved, along with current World Cup leader Lee Yu-bin.

However, Suzanne Schulting is the 2021 World Short Track Speed Skating champion at all distances and has enjoyed a wonderful Games so far, setting two Olympic records, one world record and winning four medals (two gold, two silver).

Jurgen Klopp allayed fears over the fitness of captain Jordan Henderson for Liverpool's Champions League last-16 first-leg tie at Inter, a team he considers the best in Italy.

Henderson suffered a minor back issue playing against Cardiff City in the FA Cup, which ruled him out of the 2-0 win over Leicester City.

The skipper was back as the Reds defeated Burnley 1-0 on Sunday and took a knock on the knee against the Clarets.

However, Liverpool boss Klopp confirmed Henderson will be fit for a mouth-watering showdown with reigning Serie A champions Inter at San Siro on Wednesday.

"Hendo is fine, he got a knock on his knee, today was the second day of recovery for a lot of players," Klopp said.

"So, not the longest session for him, but apart from that no issues really.

"He was back last week, his knee in the game definitely was not comfortable. The wound you can really see it, it looks like lips, should not be there. Apart from that he's fine."

Klopp's side, who were Champions League winners in the 2018-19 season, won all six of their group-stage fixtures – including one at San Siro against Milan.

The German boss believes that record will count for little against a Nerazzurri side he holds in the highest regard.

"Top-class team, top-class players and manager – I think it's probably the best team in Italy again this season, you can see it in the table at the moment," Klopp added.

"Very well organised, well drilled, individual quality is big.

"That's the Champions League, top-class team, we have to show a top-class showing, but why shouldn't we try?

"Historically the results in the group stage in the knockout stage don't count, so no advantage [to winning all six group games].

"It was good when we did it, we didn't expect it, we didn't think there was a chance to do that. But it doesn't help now obviously, it just shows we're a good football team.

"In years before when we went to the final we had average group-stage results, came through pretty much on one wheel.

"It's game 51 for me in the Champions League [with Liverpool], we gained some experience in the competition, that's what we want to use."

Klopp is operating with a near fully fit squad, something that has not happened all too often during his time at Anfield.

He welcomed such a rarity, and the opportunity to keep his team fresh with five substitutes allowed in Champions League matches compared to the three permitted in the Premier League.

"It's absolutely a good situation to have, no doubt about that," he said.

"What's much more important is how we play rather than who is playing. But it's good we have different options for different situations.

"We need fresh legs, but it's good we have a chance to make five changes, it's good for football in a really tough period.

"The boys have to deal with it as well. If I have opportunities to make more changes that's how it is, it means we can't always use the same line-up. We never had it before, it's pretty exciting."

Jurgen Klopp detailed Mohamed Salah's huge disappointment after returning to Liverpool following Egypt's Africa Cup of Nations final defeat, although the Reds manager hopes he and the team can "benefit" from that pain.

Salah and Egypt were beaten on penalties by Senegal in Sunday's AFCON decider, with Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane scoring the winning spot-kick.

While Mane is yet to return amid Senegal's celebrations – granted additional time to "just enjoy it, enjoy themselves" and then "come back as early as possible", likely late on Wednesday – Salah has already rejoined Liverpool.

The superstar winger should be in line to face Leicester City in the Premier League on Thursday, although he is visibly hurting from his international heartbreak.

"He's very disappointed, obviously," boss Klopp said on Wednesday. "It was a massive thing.

"Losing a final is always really, really hard – we can sing that song – but losing the way they lost it is especially hard. That's what he felt, as well.

"He's happy to be back, but he's disappointed as well – massively so. We spoke obviously, about the tournament, everything, and he will deal with that of course.

"I hope today will be already better, but yesterday everybody could see he still has the final on his mind."

Asked how Salah might respond to the setback as Liverpool still pursue four titles, Klopp replied: "Greater determination than Mo already had? I'm not sure that's human.

"Playing a tournament, not knowing where you'll go to, then qualifying in the hardest possible manner for the final, then against the tournament favourites playing a game like Egypt played, an absolutely great final, if you think about what they all invested already before – both teams – and how hard they fought – especially Egypt, how hard they fought to keep a team like Senegal quiet – yes, that all helps in the long term.

"But I don't think there's a lot of space for more determination in Mo's mind. He is very determined.

"Using these kinds of things is the job for all of us when you lose a final – we are obviously the best example for that.

"When you lose a final, it's really hard, really, really hard. But when you use it for the next big game or next big tournament, then it can be at least helpful when it was still hard.

"He will benefit from it, we will benefit from it, but in which [way] exactly, we do not know."

With Salah in the squad and Mane soon to join him, Klopp is close to having a full complement of players to choose from – although he did add captain Jordan Henderson has a back problem.

Liverpool will be aiming to end a run of two straight league defeats to Leicester, last losing three in a row in this fixture in 1963. No team have beaten Klopp's Reds more often in the top flight during his tenure (four – tied with Manchester City).

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