Manager Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool’s victory over Ajax felt like “one of the biggest Champions League nights” since he took charge in 2015.
Liverpool advanced to the knockout stage as Group D winners with one game to spare after winning 1-0 at Anfield.
The Reds were missing several key players through injury, Brazil keeper Alisson the latest to join the casualty list with a hamstring problem.
“With the circumstances, there hasn’t been much to smile about,” Klopp said.
A surprise home defeat by Atalanta last week had threatened Liverpool’s dominance in the group, with the Italians and Ajax closing in.
But a first Champions League goal by 19-year-old midfielder Curtis Jones and a fine goalkeeping performance from Caoimhin Kelleher, who was making his debut in the competition, earned Liverpool three points.
The win, coupled with Atalanta’s 1-1 draw with Midtjylland in Denmark, means the Reds are sure of top spot in the group.
“Without supporters in, it was the most important [win], most difficult, most exceptional,” added Klopp, who steered Liverpool to Champions League glory in 2018-19.
“It’s been tricky, and the boys threw themselves into the game,” said Klopp, who is without nine senior players because of injury.
“Curtis Jones – what a game, amazing. I’m really proud. He is a really good kid, a good player and I am happy to have him around.
“Sometimes with injuries there is always an opportunity and he has taken it.
“I really think Adrian has done a fantastic job for us but we needed the natural football playing ability of Caoimhin Kelleher. He is a good shot-stopper as well.
“We made that decision but you never know how they are going to cope. I am really happy with how calm he was and how good he was.”