Rio Ferdinand, Michael Owen and Peter Crouch have unanimously labelled the current Liverpool side as the greatest Reds team ever after a hugely dominant Champions League win.
Jurgen Klopp’s side beat LaLiga outfit Villarreal 2-0 at Anfield on Wednesday night in their European semi-final first-leg tie.
A Pervis Estupinan own goal and Sadio Mane’s close-range finish in quick succession settled Liverpool nerves and gave the hosts an advantage they would not relinquish.
Liverpool had 74 per cent of possession to Villarreal’s 26 per cent, 19 shots to one, five shots on target to zero, 10 corners to two, and completed 737 passes to the visitors’ meagre total of 272.
And pundits Ferdinand, Owen and Crouch hailed the team as Anfield’s greatest after another stellar showing as they march towards a scarcely believable ‘quadruple’.
Manchester United icon Ferdinand, speaking to BT Sport after the game, waxed lyrical about the performance, saying observers could only ‘marvel at it’.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have been labelled Liverpool’s greatest ever after a Champions League win
Reds boss Klopp watched his side beat Villarreal 2-0 in their European semi-final first-leg tie
The hosts absolutely steamrollered Unai Emery’s side at a raucous Anfield on Wednesday night
He said: ‘This is the best Liverpool team I have ever seen. They’re relentless. It’s the way that they press teams, the energy, the effort, the application. You sit here and just marvel at it.’
Fellow pundit Owen concurred, saying: ‘They (Villarreal) have just got a pulse. If Liverpool could have just nicked another one (goal), that was it. Game, set and match. But they didn’t and they’re still in it.
‘It was just total, total dominance from Liverpool. It’s the best team I’ve ever seen in a Red shirt. They just swarm you.
‘Villarreal players must have gone off that pitch thinking “what’s hit us?” It’s impossible to stop this unbelievable press that they’ve got.’
Although Unai Emery’s side frustrated the home side for the first half, two goals in three minutes quickly changed the complexion and feel of the tie.
BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand praised the ‘relentless’ performance in both defence and attack
And former Liverpool striker Michael Owen (shown above) hailed their ‘total, total dominance’
First, Jordan Henderson’s cross from the right took a wicked, fortuitous deflection off Estupinan and sailed over Geronimo Rulli. With the visitors shell-shocked, Mane then poked home from Mohamed Salah’s pass to put the result beyond doubt.
And former Liverpool striker Crouch was in full agreement with his colleagues about whether this team are the greatest Liverpool has ever seen.
He added: ‘I’d say so. Unfortunately I was too young for the teams of the 70s, this is the best I’ve seen. Villarreal are a good passing side, they weren’t allowed a second or a moment to get a foothold in the game. I just thought the press was fantastic.
‘The midfield today, Thiago, Fabinho was unbelievable. Henderson as well. There were so many amazing performances and you can’t see Villarreal coming back from this.’
Liverpool are still on course for a historic and unprecedented quadruple, having already secured the Carabao Cup, beating Chelsea on penalties. They face the same opponents in the FA Cup final on May 14.
Jordan Henderson’s right-wing cross took a big deflection off Pervis Estupinan and sailed in
Sadio Mane (centre) then poked in a pass from Mohamed Salah (right) just two minutes later
Reds midfielder Thiago Alcantara (pictured above) was given the Player of the Match award
If they beat Villarreal across two legs, which now appears likely, they would face the winner of Manchester City and Real Madrid in the Champions League final on May 28, with the Premier League season set to come to a dramatic conclusion on May 22.
In the top-flight, Liverpool currently lie just a point behind City, with both teams having five league games left this season. Ferdinand and Owen both stated their belief the current Reds side can achieve sporting immortality.
Ferdinand said: ‘That’s got to be the aim for these guys. They’re going to set themselves a target and if they achieve that, they are immortal. They are above anybody that’s ever played the game in this country if they do that.
‘That’s got to be their target. Whether they can achieve that remains to be seen, but they’re ticking the boxes along the way really well at the moment.’
And Owen concluded: ‘Just imagine it. It’s impossible, but now all of a sudden you’re just thinking “can it happen?”. The way they’re playing, the amount of players they’ve got fit, the confidence, the belief around the stadium.