lavished praise on after his matchwinning brace in Saturday’s derby but revealed he was impressed with the peformance of the man tasked with marking the Liverpool talisman.
The Reds ultimately continued the dominance they have enjoyed against their local rivals in recent years but they were forced to be patient.
showed commendable resilience following the first half dismissal of Ashley Young for two bookable offences and were ultimately undone when Michael Keane was penalised for a handball offence with 15 minutes remaning.
Salah thrashed home the subsequent penalty emphatically and sealed three points which took Liverpool, temporarily at least, top of the table with a typically composed finish in injury time following a lung-busting run from Drawin Nunez.
In truth, however, Salah was kept quiet by the combative Vitaliy Mykolenko who was unfortunate to end on the losing side.
‘Consistency is the most difficult thing in football to do it in each and every game,’ said Van Dijk after the 2-0 win. ‘I think Mykolenkodid very well and played very well against him. But big players step up when you need them.’
On Liverpool’s rapid evolution, he added: ‘There has been an transition of course, also in the way we play, different players with different qualities and trying to adapt. It’s working well.
‘Everyone is pushing each other and playing at a high level. That’s the key to success.
‘Everyone last year, at the end of the season, was drained – I’ll be honest. It was such a disappointing season because we didn’t find consistency.
‘We played one good game – against Manchester United here and then lost to Bournemouth in the next game. It was so frustrating.
‘We had a short break in the summer and then we came back and everyone felt great. It went well and we sense a different vibe and energy in the club.
‘Being top of the league means nothing yet. It is game by game by game. We have to enjoy the moment, playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world.’
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