Virgil van Dijk has hailed teammate Roberto Firmino's defensive efforts during games, insisting his closing from the front can prove pivotal in comfortable games for Liverpool's back line. 

The Reds became only the fourth team this season to completely shut out the Manchester City attack during their 3-0 Champions League win over Pep Guardiola's men on Wednesday.

And ahead of the upcoming second leg at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday, the Anfield record signing insisted to the Mirror that the praise for stopping the usually free-scoring Citizens from registering a single effort on target throughout the 90 minutes belonged to the whole team, but singled out his Brazilian teammate as a critical factor. 


“I don’t take any personal credit for that," Van Dijk said when asked if he takes credit for muting the Premier League's champions-elect.

“We all do it together. It starts from the front. If we do it from the front, then obviously we don’t need to be in trouble at the back. Having forwards like ours is just amazing. Not just attacking-wise, but also defensively. They do so much work. Look at Bobby Firmino. It is a nightmare to play against him.

“I can say that myself because I played against him at the ­beginning of the season. It starts from Bobby and the boys in attack. If the midfield do it as well, then you are not going to be in trouble ­– you may even have an easy night.”

If Guardiola has his way on Tuesday, however, that will not be the case. But with the likes of Mohamed Salah, Firmino, Sadio Mane and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in attack, Liverpool have their best chance for a decade to reach the Champions League's semi final stage. 

“Obviously the moments in the first half when we scored were vital, but it was how we reacted under pressure from City in the second half that makes me proud," Van Dijk added.

“The support at Anfield was amazing and it gave us the extra push in the second half, ­particularly the last 20 minutes – encouraging us to keep going, keep organising and keep clearing our lines.

“We were struggling but ­everyone worked hard, kept together and made sure we had a clean sheet. That gives you a lot of satisfaction, especially when you know that in the quarter-finals of this competition it is key not to concede, particularly at home.

“We knew that before the game. We knew they had a lot of quality and we had to be tight. When we have the ball we need to do a little better but to get a result like we did was amazing.”


However, the Dutchman accepts that all of his side's good work may well be unravelled at the Etihad Stadium, which is why he believes Jurgen Klopp must set out to attack. 

He added: “I don’t think people will say it is all over. Everybody knows how much ­quality City have – you could see it in the second half.

“They were pressing us. I don’t think it is a good idea to sit back and see what they are going to do. We need to be aware and be ready for anything. But we have got to play our game ­– and try to score more goals.”