Sadio Mane's hat-trick at FC Porto was the reward for his refusal to allow an indifferent run of form to get the better of him.

Despite thumping strikes against Burnley and Manchester City in January, the Liverpool forward was not always at his sharpest – but continued to put in the hard yards in an effort to rediscover his best.

And his determination paid dividends in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie in Portugal as Mane registered an outstanding hat-trick to help the visitors triumph 5-0.

“I’m very happy,” the No.19 told after the final whistle at Estadio do Dragao.

“Sometimes it can happen in football and it wasn’t an easy time for me. But I never doubted [myself] because I know how I can help the team. I was always working hard.

“The performance of the whole team was great. We started the game quickly. We created many chances and scored five, that was the key and it was well deserved.”

Watch: Mane's treble against FC Porto

Mane was joined on the scoresheet by his attacking colleagues Mohamed Salah – who reached 30 for the season in all competitions – and Roberto Firmino.

The Senegal international credited Liverpool’s attitude and application as the most important factor in thrashing a side who had lost only once at home previously in 2017-18.

“I always enjoy playing alongside the boys in this team. We enjoy playing together – it’s the key for us,” he continued.

“There are no easy teams in this competition. We knew it would not be easy, so we tried to start fast and give our best from the beginning. We deserved to win.”