Liverpool blew a three-goal lead against Sevilla to allow the Spanish outfit to salvage a point in their UEFA Champions League Group E tie on Tuesday night and Reds manager Jurgen Klopp admitted his players took their foot off the gas in the second-half.
“The description is easy – two different halves. A fantastic first half of my team and in the second-half we made the mistake that we didn’t carry on playing football,” Klopp admitted at the post-match press conference.
“It’s normal that you try to control the game then, but a team like we are, we have to control the game with the ball – and we didn’t play football anymore. We became a little bit passive, they scored the first one and it was obvious the atmosphere changed immediately. It gave them a big boost,” Klopp stated, as he added, “Until the second goal, we were reacting but after the second goal I think it was an open game again. We opened the door for them and didn’t close it anymore, so they could score in the last minute and that was the story of the game”.
Three-nil up at half-time, Liverpool were on the verge of qualifying for the round-of-16 with a game to spare, but their shambolic defensive performance scuppered those hopes and the Reds will have to avoid defeat against Spartak Moscow in their final group-stage game to book their berth.
“Yes, it was extra frustrating. They are human beings and maybe (Liverpool players thought they’d won by half-time) but it was a misjudgement, if you want. Controlling the game, it is not allowed to become passive in a game like this because of that the second half is too long – 50 minutes or longer. It’s not the first time it has happened in football and it won’t be the last time either.”
“No. Before the game, and that’s maybe a strange thing, if you told me it would be a draw I would say, OK, let me see the game first but it is not the worst result. But then when you play that first half then you want to win, of course,” Klopp responded when asked whether he was happy with a point.
Despite being disappointed at not being able to secure the win, the German tactician defended his players as he insisted they have the right mentality, “No, you cannot make it like this, we showed already a fantastic mentality. We showed it against – the obvious one – Dortmund, we showed it in a lot of other games. Yes, it was not perfect tonight, that’s true, but it is not a general problem. In this atmosphere, yes, we need to get more and more experience. Could we have done better? 100 per cent. Do we think it’s a mentality problem? 100 per cent not.”
The Reds now start preparing for a massive Premier League clash on Saturday with defending champions Chelsea. Currently in fifth, Liverpool could get level with the third-placed Blues should they manage to beat Antonion Conte’s men.
“From tomorrow on we will know we have a point more than we had this afternoon. But in this moment – I don’t think anybody can change this – it feels like we lost the game. We didn’t lose the game. Ask Sevilla, they feel like they won the game but they didn’t. That’s our business, that’s our life, we have to start preparing for Chelsea pretty much immediately. In this moment, it is like it is, we cannot change it anymore,” Klopp added.