Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was delighted with the way his much-changed side dealt with AC Milan at the San Siro to set a new record by becoming the first English club to win all six Champions League group matches.
Goals from Mohamed Salah, his 20th of the season, and Divock Origi secured a 2-1 win over Milan after Fikayo Tomori’s 29th-minute opener.
Klopp had made eight changes from the last-gasp win at Wolves on Saturday with only Alisson Becker, Salah and Sadio Mane retained.
“Honestly I don’t feel pride a lot in football because most of the time I expect good things to happen,” he told SkySports.
“But tonight, there was a lot of pride, an exceptional performance; I don’t mean because we won six games, I mean this game because it was so good with that many changes.
“It is easy for me to make the changes, but the boys have to be confident enough to show how good they are and I saw so many good football things tonight which is incredible.
“And we won all six games, which is absolutely incredible and just another chapter for this group of players.
“It’s not a prize (winning all six) and you win something; I’d have taken each points tally to go to the next round but 18 is the best so we take that as well.”
A full 90-minute performance for 19-year-old Tyler Morton in midfield, plus late European debuts for academy players 18-year-old Conor Bradley and Max Woltman, his first senior appearance, ensured it was a positive night for Liverpool’s present and future.
The confidence which is coursing through this side was embodied by fifth-choice centre-back Nat Phillips, who lined up in a completely new back four.
In his first start of the season, after just 45 minutes against Preston and a late substitute appearance versus Atletico Madrid last month, Phillips’ drag-back in his own penalty area sent two Milan players racing past and allowed him to launch a counter-attack.
“I really thought we defended exceptionally well,” he added. “The plan of Milan was playing through the centre, through the half-spaces between the winger and our eights.
“We made it complicated because of the disciplined work of all of the players.
“I have to say Nate Phillips and Ibou Konate played an exceptional game, absolutely exceptional game. How they defended tonight was outstanding, I am really proud of the boys.”