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Liverpool’s first real glimpse of Sadio Mane hurt before they were convinced of his talent

Many assume it was Sadio Mane’s second-half brace against Liverpool for Southampton in 2016 which convinced Jurgen Klopp to snap him up that very summer.

But before that super sub showing on the South Coast – as he came off the bench to score twice as the Saints came from behind to win 3-2 – Mane had left a sting in the Reds’ tale five months prior, during Klopp’s inauguration month.

It was October 25 and Klopp’s third game at the helm and after a goalless draw with Tottenham in his opener and a less than impressive 1-1 draw with Rubin Kazan in the Europa League, the German needed a win.

After failing to pick up that all-important first victory thus far it looked as though he was on the cusp of it as Christian Benteke opened the scoring in the 77th minute with a header from 12 yards out.

Klopp celebrated furiously after James Milner’s cross had found the Belgian. It not only gave Liverpool the lead but was the first time the net had bulged in the Premier League with Klopp as boss.

But Mane had different ideas.

Nine minutes later he got the last touch to bundle the equaliser over the line as Simon Mignolet rushed and scurried but couldn’t prevent the then 23-year-old from silencing the home crowd.


As Liverpool pushed for a winner Mane was defending from the front desperate for his goal to write the headlines.

But two late yellows, the latter of which for a brutal lunge into the ankle of Alberto Moreno, saw Mane wave goodbye to Anfield as he was shown red. Little did Liverpool fans know the next time they would see the the attacker at Anfield he would be scoring in a 4-1 rout of reigning champions Leicester City.

Despite Mane’s late sending off his team-mate Virgil van Dijk had put in a man of the match showing, one of which fans are now accustomed to seeing, and Southampton were able to wrestle a draw which kept them one point above a ninth-placed Liverpool in the table.

We know Klopp had admired and met with Mane during his time in charge of Borussia Dortmund, as he recently explained in the Rakuten TV documentary Sadio Mane – Made in Senegal where he admitted how his initial judgement of the now superstar was wrong.

The Reds coach told: “I remember my first encounter with Sadio. It was in Dortmund. There was a really young guy sitting there. His baseball cap was askew, the blond streak he still has today. He looked like a rapper just starting out. I thought, ‘I don’t have time for this’. Our team back then really wasn’t bad.

“I needed someone who could handle not being a starter at the very beginning, someone I could develop. I’d say I have a pretty good feeling for people, but was I wrong! I followed his further career and continued success at Salzburg. In Southampton he just dominated.”

As Klopp explained, Mane dominated at Southampton scoring 25 times in 75 outings. Though it was his three goals against the Reds which tipped the transfer iceberg. It is those goals, and that forgotten goal line scramble in particular, which would help persuade Klopp that he was worth the £34m plunge.

He was of course the man who prevented Klopp’s first Liverpool win. That hurt.

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But any pain has long since eased with the 28-year-old having scored 77 times in 161 appearances. He might have stolen two points from Liverpool that night but he has been a talisman in red ever since, and one of the key players who could be about to end the longest hurt of all; an arduous 30-year wait for a league title.

Mane left the Anfield crowd reeling that night, and in many ways they’ve been reeling ever since.

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