Jurgen Klopp admitted his relief after Liverpool finally won their first Premier League game of 2023 on Monday with a 2-0 derby win over Everton.
Mohamed Salah scored in the league for the first time since Boxing Day and January signing Cody Gakpo scored his first goal for the club in the victory at Anfield.
Liverpool’s success ended a run of four league games without a win and lifted them to ninth in the table, while struggling Everton remained in the bottom three.
Asked how he felt after the game, Liverpool manager Klopp said: “Relieved – that’s it, that’s the most important feeling since the final whistle.
“I am happy with the performance. It was necessary that we played the game we wanted to play and not the game Everton wanted to play.
“You can’t ignore it all the time, but they didn’t have an extreme amount of set pieces. With all the aggression you have to show, make sure you don’t overdo it, because every set piece is a huge threat and something they want.
“I thought we did that very well. Plus we were super dominant, switched sides, kept the ball and kept them going.
“Both goals came from counter-attacks – that is also allowed – and I thought both goals were great.
“We had three options in the penalty area for both goals. A lot of things were different tonight so it was our best match in a while.
“We needed this game, we needed this performance. Our people absolutely deserved it. I loved the atmosphere – even before we scored. It’s an insane atmosphere that people create here.”
Everton manager Sean Dyche felt his side started strong but failed to recover after being caught on Salah’s opener in the 36th minute, which came seconds after James Tarkowski hit the far post.
Dyche said: “I think they had the upper hand in the early stages without opening up too much.
“Our form was good, but then it changed in 15 or 16 seconds. We hit the post and didn’t react that fast.
“We know that Liverpool are good in the transition and we conceded a goal without needing it.
“At half-time we said we had to use the ball better, but when you give away a goal so quickly, it’s very difficult, especially here.
“We kept plugging away, but there were too many sloppy passes and too many lost possessions.”
Dyche insisted that as he hadn’t gotten too excited after the victory over Arsenal in his first game in charge, he wasn’t gloomy about the derby defeat in his second.
He said: “The players have taken a lot on board, so I’m not going to be too critical. They’ve worked very hard, very diligent.
“I know how important this game is for Evertonians, but on paper you would take three points from these first two games. That’s a starting point.
“I don’t remember being too high after we beat the leaders. I was pretty balanced about it and I’m pretty balanced tonight.”