Jurgen Klopp lauds teen defender Rhys Williams who has begun Champions League career with three successive clean sheets
Jurgen Klopp has heaped praised on Liverpool defender Rhys Williams, the teen defender who helped the Reds thrash Atalanta 5-0 on Tuesday.
The Merseysiders have started their Champions League campaign in fine form, winning each of their first three matches to put one foot in the knockout rounds.
Liverpool followed up a narrow 1-0 defeat of Ajax in their European opener with a 2-0 win over Midtjylland last week, and then ran riot against Atalanta this time around.
Diogo Jota scored a hat-trick with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane also netting as the Reds’ remarkable front line enjoyed their night in Bergamo.
But particular praise must be reserved for Liverpool’s defence, which nullified a typically free-scoring Atalanta side and ensured the Reds kept their third successive clean sheet in this season’s Champions League.
One consistent factor in each of those shut-outs is the presence of 19-year-old Williams, the centre-back who has begun his European career with three straight clean sheets.
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He was introduced as a late substitute against Ajax and then played an hour of the Midtjylland clash, before making his first Champions League start – and playing the full 90 minutes – in the thrashing of Atalanta.
Remarkably, this is the first time ever Liverpool have started a Champions League campaign with three successive clean sheets – and Williams boasts an appearance in each of the matches!
And manager Klopp was understandably gushing in the wake of the Atalanta clash.
“Exceptional,” he said of Williams. “I cannot imagine being 19 and playing in the Champions League against [Duvan] Zapata, it’s incredible!
“I couldn’t be more happy for Rhys. You should see him in the dressing room, you’d need something special to get the smile off his face!”
Williams has been afforded his chance in the team due to the potentially season-ending injury suffered by Virgil van Dijk in last month’s Merseyside derby.
“We had to change because Virg is not there any more, so we share the responsibility,” added Klopp. “We put it on ten shoulders instead of one.
“Everybody has to step up now; Robbo [Andy Robertson], Trent [Alexander-Arnold] and Joe [Gomez], they are in charge. How the team defended tonight was absolutely incredible.”