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Soccer: Takumi Minamino makes Premier League debut for Liverpool

Liverpool's Takumi Minamino, center, kicks the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool at the Molineux Stadium in Wolverhampton, U.K., on Jan. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

WOLVERHAMPTON, England (Kyodo) -- Liverpool attacker Takumi Minamino made his English Premier League debut in a 2-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Thursday, earning high praise for his performance from manager Jurgen Klopp.

The Japan international, who transferred from Austrian champions Salzburg earlier this month, played "exceptionally" after coming on as a first-half substitute, according to Klopp.

Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino struck the winner in the 84th minute at Molineux Stadium to keep Liverpool 16 points clear of title rivals Manchester City with a game in hand.

Minamino entered the fray earlier than expected, replacing Sadio Mane in the 33rd minute after the Senegalese star hobbled off with a hamstring injury.

"For the first Premier League game (Minamino played) exceptionally well," Klopp told Liverpool's official website. "He is completely integrated in the team and that's really good."

The German said Minamino had received treatment for a sore hamstring at halftime, but said he "should be fine."

Minamino -- who debuted for Liverpool in a 1-0 FA Cup win over archrivals Everton on Jan. 5 -- indicated mixed feelings after his first league game.

"I wasn't completely satisfied with my own performance, but it was good to be part of the action in such a tight match," said the 25-year-old, who made his professional start with J-League side Cerezo Osaka.

Minamino said he was determined to repay the faith shown in him by Klopp, who won Bundesliga titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12 managing a Borussia Dortmund side featuring Japanese playmaker Shinji Kagawa.

"The manager has shown a lot of confidence in me, and I want to meet his expectations," he said.

"I feel like a part of the team, but I still haven't had that moment on the pitch where I've shown my capabilities."

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