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Jurgen Klopp Praises James Milner After Winning Penalty vs. Fulham

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 17:  James Milner of Liverpool scores his sides second goal from the penalty spot  during the Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage on March 17, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Jurgen Klopp had "no doubts" James Milner would score from the penalty spot to help Liverpool beat Fulham 2-1 and go top of the Premier League on Sunday.

Milner proved his manager right by stroking the ball in from 12 yards to send the Reds above Manchester City by two points, although the Citizens have played a game less.

Klopp felt vindicated by the conversion and the decision to bring Milner off the substitutes bench for Adam Lallana in the 72nd minute.

Ian Doyle @IanDoyleSport

Klopp: Millie has the penalties, when he's on the pitch it makes sense. There were no doubts but even Millie is a human being. Mind you, without Millie it's probably 1-0! (refers to his mishit clearance for the equaliser).

Milner was given the chance to score from the spot after Fulham goalkeeper Sergio Rico had felled goalscorer Sadio Mane in the box. The Spanish stopper fumbled a shot from Mohamed Salah then collided with Mane as the Senegal international forward attempted to take the ball around him.

Klopp was satisfied with the decision to award the penalty.

Ryan O'Donovan @R_O_Donovan

Klopp says: 'No one has told me it wasn't a penalty' when asked about Mane winning the penalty #FFC

Even so, Jason Burt and Alan Tyers of the Daily Telegraph felt Mane had "made the most of it, going down dramatically."

The winning goal also helped Milner make amends after midfielder's sliced clearance had put Virgil van Dijk under pressure, leading to Fulham's equaliser. Van Dijk uncharacteristically misjudged the clearance, allowing former Reds winger Ryan Babel to tap in.

Milner explained his gaffe to Sky Sports (h/t Neil Jones of the Liverpool Echo):

Neil Jones @neiljonesgoal

James Milner to Sky. "The gaffer told me to come on and calm it down and the first thing I do is slice it and put Virgil under pressure which wasn't ideal..." #LFC

His mistake may have been costly had it not been for Milner's scoring touch, which helped maintain an incredible record:

Squawka Football @Squawka

James Milner has never lost a Premier League game in which he has scored: WWWWDWDDDWWDWWDWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWDWWWWWWWWWDWWWDDWDWW 51 undefeated. 🎶 https://t.co/KKyBW9Th54

The 33-year-old once again proved something of a lucky charm on a day when Liverpool needed a slice of fortune to regain control of the title race. Milner and Co. have the defensive resolve to stay strong, as well as the efficiency in forward areas to win even on days when they don't play well.

It's an ability usually reserved for teams that outlast rivals in tight title races. City's game in hand means the champions will still be favoured to retain the trophy, but Liverpool's formula for success ensures Klopp's team is unlikely to drop many points between now and the end of the season.

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