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Liverpool’s Salah and Mane leave Wenger in awe after Villarreal comeback win

5:31 PM GMT+8 04/05/2022
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane of Liverpool celebrate a goal
The 72-year-old former Gunners coach praises the African duo for their contribution as the Reds floored Yellow Submarine to reach another final

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has described the performance of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane after they helped Liverpool reach the Champions League final on Tuesday as “monstrous”.

The two African players were in action at Estadio de la Ceramica as the Reds came from two goals down to beat the Yellow Submarine 3-2 in the semi-final return leg contest and reach the final by virtue of a 5-2 aggregate result.

It was Villarreal who took an early lead courtesy of Senegal international Boulaye Dia before former Arsenal player Francis Coquelin doubled their scoreline for a 2-0 lead on the night at the half-time break.

However, Liverpool came back a more rejuvenated side in the second period and reduced the deficit courtesy of Fabinho, who finished off a cross from Egypt’s Salah; Luis Diaz then made it 2-2 before Senegal’s Mane won the tie with a cool finish.

Salah and Mane were part of their national teams during the 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations held in Cameroon earlier this year, where the Lions of Teranga emerged winners after beating the Pharaohs on penalties.

The two giants of African football once again faced off in the World Cup qualifying playoffs six weeks later, where Senegal were once again the winners after post-match spot-kicks.

Wenger has picked the two players for praise after they helped Liverpool reach another final this season. Liverpool already reached the Carabao Cup final where they beat Chelsea on penalties and are in the FA Cup final, where they will face Chelsea on May 14 at Wembley.

“Look at Salah and Sadio [Mane], who played the Africa Nations Cup final,” the 72-year-old told beIN Sports. “What they have done since they have come back, it’s monstrous.

“We would have complained in Europe that we played too many games – never a word. Tonight, Mane has been kicked all over the place, never a word.”

Mane’s goal against Villarreal saw him shatter Didier Drogba’s record to become Africa’s highest goalscorer in the Champions League knockout stage.

The 30-year-old has now managed 15 goals in the competition, one more than Chelsea legend Drogba, while Salah is third on the list with 11 goals, and former Cameroon captain Samuel Eto’o is fourth with 10.

On the Premier League front, the 29-year-old Salah has so far this season managed 22 goals from 32 appearances, which is the most by a player in the competition in 2021-2022, whilst he is also ranked first for Premier League assists having played the final pass in 13 goals.

Meanwhile, Mane is ranked fifth in the Premier League goalscoring charts with a tally of 14 goals this season, as well as being the team’s third-top league scorer. He has also provided two assists as well.