Takumi Minamino has aired his relief at “finally” breaking his Premier League goal duck at the 18th attempt, with the Liverpool forward adamant that there is more to come from him.
The Japan international was snapped up by Jurgen Klopp during the January transfer window of 2020.
His energy and versatility in the final third brought him to the Reds’ attention, with a bargain £7.25 million ($10m) deal pushed through with Red Bull Salzburg.
Minamino was always going to find it tough to see regular game time on Merseyside, with his path blocked by star-studded performers when it comes to midfield and attacking berths.
He has taken in 29 appearances across all competitions, claiming a title winners’ medal along the way, but there is a sense that he is yet to produce his best in English football.
Opening his account in top-flight action should aid that cause, with Minamino unlocking the floodgates for Liverpool – after being handed a starting berth – in their 7-0 win over Crystal Palace.
On that effort, which came after 125 seconds, the 25-year-old told the Reds’ official website: “It was instinctive.
“When Sadio [Mane] passed the ball to me, I sensed that an opponent was coming to block me. But from there, I had no time to think, but just trusted my feeling and shot.
“A goal in the Premier League was what I really wanted to achieve. Rather than feeling happy about it, I think it took longer than I wished. But I am happy that I could contribute to the team’s victory.
“I wouldn’t say that I was disappointed with myself [for not scoring in the Premier League previously], but I always wanted to score as soon as possible. I also felt some pressure about it.
“I am happy that I finally scored, but I have only scored once, so I will work hard to score more.”
Minamino is convinced that he can take his game to even greater heights as he continues to find his feet at Liverpool.
Impressive victories, such as that secured over Palace, will help him in that quest, with the defending champions sitting top of the table at Christmas for a third successive year.
“I haven’t experienced such a big win since I became professional. So I am happy to contribute to such a special win,” Minamino added.
“Because we could win that match by 7-0, I think our attacking [play] worked very well, and I myself was feeling it. Personally, throughout the game, [not] everything I did was working. I know there is a space for improvement.
“I need to work hard to improve myself, and I know I can improve myself.”
Minamino will be looking for more minutes when Liverpool return to action on Sunday in a home date with struggling West Brom.