Jurgen Klopp praised “top talent” Caoimhin Kelleher after the goalkeeper helped Liverpool overcome Ajax 1-0 in the Champions League.
Starting as Alisson deals with a hamstring injury, Kelleher became just the second goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet on his debut for Liverpool in the Champions League.
Kelleher, 22, made four saves as Curtis Jones’ 58th-minute goal proved to be enough to send the Premier League champions into the last 16 from Group D.
Klopp hailed the shot-stopper and said the Irishman’s distribution was a key reason he decided to start Kelleher over Adrian.
“Top. Top, top, top,” the Liverpool manager told a news conference.
“It is a situation, which I have to say, it was easy to decide for Caoimhin because he just deserves it, but it was difficult to decide against Adrian because he did really well for us: a lot of clean sheets, what a season last year, Super Cup final and all these kind of things.
“He did a really good job, but we needed the package of Caoimhin – and he is a top talent anyway, but a really good shot-stopper and a top footballer, so I like that.
“We needed that for the pressing of Ajax, we needed his chips from him into the half-spaces and these kinds of things. That was really good, but of course in the end it is all about saving, keeping the ball out of the net, and he did that at least twice in an exceptional manner. I am pretty sure he will either sleep really well or not at all, but he will enjoy both.”
Kelleher completed 30 of 42 passes for Liverpool, who have further injury concerns over Jordan Henderson and Andy Robertson.
But Klopp was optimistic about the pair ahead of Sunday’s clash at home to Wolves.
“We have now two days more than we had last week until the next game,” he said.
“I don’t know, things like this show up the next day slightly different. At the moment I am rather positive about it but I don’t know.
“But that’s a problem of the next few days and not tonight.”