Jürgen Klopp believes Liverpool showed further signs of progress in their 1-0 Europa League win over Rubin Kazan on Thursday evening, admitting that he was impressed by their will to win.
The Reds continued their unbeaten streak by registering their first win in Europe this season as Jordon Ibe's excellent second-half finish off the inside of the post halted a run of three straight draws in Group B.
The teenager's first competitive goal for the club gave Klopp's charges their third successive victory and a well-deserved one at that, as they dominated throughout at the Kazan Arena and were unlucky not to add to their goal tally - James Milner clipping the crossbar before Rubin's goalkeeper made two stunning saves to deny a certain own goal on the stroke of half-time.
But despite having near 70 per cent possession and peppering 23 shots on the opposition goal, Liverpool eventually had to settle for just a one-goal victory as they bridged the gap to top spot to just two points and made qualification for the knockout stages with a game to spare a real possibility.
Three points against Bordeaux at Anfield later this month would give Liverpool just that as Klopp's side continue to gather momentum and the boss believes they are improving game by game.
Boss pleased with Reds performance as they did "really well" in Russia
The German said that the result and the "first 80 minutes" were "really good" as he spoke to the press in the Republic of Tatarstan, adding that it was "not easy" with the "fantastic" atmosphere inside the stadium, as 42,000 piled in to break the record attendance.
Klopp added that whilst it was a "really good place" to play football, he criticised the pitch by insisting that it wasn't in the "same shape" as the rest of the ground - meaning it "wasn't easy for the team."
Nevertheless, the Liverpool manager was delighted with his side's performance and said they "did really well", had their chances and "could have had more goals" after having to adapt a more possession-based style of play.
He said their display "deserved" their goal but admitted they have to "learn to win" after they "opened the door a little bit for Rubin Kazan" and "lost a little bit of rhythm."
Despite dropping off towards the end, Klopp said his team "fought for their lives" and was very impressed with "how much they wanted to win" in Russia.
He added that they analysed the first game on Merseyside from a fortnight ago, as the two sides drew 1-1 in their first ever meeting, and said it was "not the biggest surprise" that Rubin were "very well organised."
However, Klopp believes his side played "much better" and created bigger chances having had "four weeks together" which has allowed them to gain more experience as a group.
The Reds boss flew a strong squad for the 5,000-mile round trip to Kazan but was hesitant to call upon Philippe Coutinho or Adam Lallana off of the bench after they picked up knocks in the recent win over Chelsea.
Klopp explained that he "didn't want to risk" the Brazilian due to a "little hamstring issue" - despite being told by "everyone" that it was a minor injury and the playmaker is still fit. The boss revealed that he is not a "believer in things like this" and said due to the "heavy pitch" and the "very intensive" nature of the game, he "didn't want to take this risk."
He added that it would have been "better" for Liverpool's game to bring on Coutinho and Lallana, because it was a "very intensive" clash and they needed to "change some things in the game to create more chances" - but in the end Klopp insisted that the Reds did so and declared himself "really satisfied" with their outing.
Klopp hails "very skilled" Ibe after match-winning performance
One of the key attacking outlets in the absence of the attacking midfield duo was Jordon Ibe, who contributed a sublime performance as the 19-year-old terrorised the home side's defence with a threatening display down the right flank.
His efforts paid dividends just seven minutes into the second-half as he drove into a pocket of space before finding the bottom corner via the woodwork with a side-footed strike.
It marked an improved few weeks for the England U21 international after he had started the season underwhelmingly, and came just days after video footage of his manager jokingly offering the player his glasses after one of his passes in training went a few yards astray.
But when offering a serious opinion on the winger's qualities, Klopp hailed Ibe's immense potential for the future.
Asked to explain that situation at Melwood, the manager laughed it off by saying that the teenager "played a bad pass" and joked that "maybe it was because he needed glasses."
However, Klopp that was "for sure not the reason" behind his performance in Kazan - insisting that Ibe is a "very good lad", a "very skilled player" and a "really big talent" because of his strength, speed and dribbling ability.
Klopp was keen to stress that he is by no means the end product, insisting he still "has a lot to learn" but said he has a "really good base" to work from as he looks to demonstrate that he is good enough to cement a regular starting spot in the first-team.
The boss added that Ibe "feels good at the moment" and showed that with his performance against Rubin, though said he has to continue to "work hard" because he is "very young" and "has a long way to go." But Klopp believes that he is prepared "to learn and to listen" then "everything will be good."
Reds to take European competition serious under Klopp
Klopp's approach to European competition was markedly different to his predecessor's as Christian Benteke returned to the starting eleven amongst several other first-team regulars.
And the manager said that he "only builds teams or squads to win the game" and not to "give someone a rest if he doesn't need it" - which is how he assessed the fixture in Russia.
He explained that they had Lallana and Coutinho out "with some problems" although "not the biggest ones" which explained why they spent the night on the bench, due to not wanting to risk aggravating their knocks further because the squad is "big enough and strong enough" to cope without them "in this case."
Klopp added that it was a similar situation with Martin Skrtel, who played "nearly all the game" against Bournemouth in mid-week last Wednesday after replacing the injured Kolo Toure in the first-half and said they gave him a rest because "Dejan Lovren is a strong player."
But he said the priority was not "because they're rested" but rather that "the other players are fresh and the possibility to win is big" even with footballers outside of the first-team, which he said is why they went to Kazan - saying they "didn't fly five hours for a friendly."