Liverpool vs Paris Saint-Germain was the highlight fixture of the opening day of the UEFA Champions League action and the fixture at Anfield didn’t disappoint, with the host edging their fancied opponents 3-2, courtesy of an injury-time strike from Roberto Firmino.
Daniel Sturridge, making his first start of the season, had put the hosts ahead on the half-hour mark before James Milner converted a penalty to open up a two-goal lead for the Merseysiders.
PSG fullback Thomas Meunier reduced the deficit late in the first-half and Kylian Mbappe would equalise with just seven minutes remaining to seemingly ensure a share of the spoils.
Substitue Firmino had other ideas, however, and he fashioned a bit of space for himself inside the box before firing a low shot into the bottom corner right at the death to continue Liverpool’s 100 per cent start to the season (all competitions.
Understandably, Jurgen Klopp was a happy man in the aftermath of the tie and here are his key quotes from the post-match press conference:
“It was good, really good in all departments pretty much. It is so difficult to defend them, but we did. Good organisation and a big heart is always a good combination for defending. All 11 players were involved in that,”Klopp responded when asked about his reaction to his side’s win at Anfield.
The possession stats were even, but Liverpool had more shots (12-7) and more efforts on goal (7-5) than Les Parisiens on the night.
“A good performance against an outstandingly strong opponent; it was necessary we played good. The atmosphere was fantastic, so special to do these things in this stadium. It was nice.”
While Neymar, the world’s most expensive player, was largely quiet, as was centre-forward Edinson Cavani, Liverpool attackers Sturridge and Roberto Firmino made life miserable for their opponents on the night.
“Great performance. Great performance of Daniel. The three in midfield did an outstanding job, but they only can do it when the two wingers in how we play and the No.9 are helping in all these situations to keep the formation compact. It was fantastic,” Klopp gushed on the topic of strikers Sturridge and Firmino coming up with clutch goals in either half.
Klopp has always favoured Firmino over Sturridge, but the German tactician was all praises for the injury-prone Englishman after he scored his second goal of the season.
“I said to Daniel before the game he is the best shape since I’ve known him, physically, and now he had to use it – and that’s what he did. A super game, a super goal,” the Liverpool manager added.
Firmino’s contribution at the death proved to be a telling one, prompting calls by fans and some pundits that perhaps the Brazilian should have started the game.
However, Klopp revealed that it was doubtful whether the striker would even make the bench after Tottenham Hotspur defender Jan Vertonghen had inadvertently poked his eye on the weekend during a Premier League clash.
“And we then had the opportunity to bring on Bobby Firmino. There was no chance yesterday, absolutely no chance today before (training) and then this morning he came in said, ‘I am fine, I can open the eye again!’ so it’s good, it helps! It was good.”
“How I said, the day before yesterday it was no chance, yesterday it didn’t look really well and we had only one session, which we used, and that was this morning. Bobby tested a little bit and then he went in and you think it’s the moment when you have to show faith in the squad”, Klopp continued as he added, “Yes, when you have Bobby Firmino available, you actually always think ‘come on, bring him’, but it was nice to see how Daniel performed tonight and he paid 100 per cent back. That’s so cool for him, for us, such a big, important sign. And how I said, bringing Bobby in after 70 minutes is a nice tool, to be honest, I really like that. So it was good.”
Liverpool top Group C after Matchday 1 with three points as the other two teams in the group–Napoli and FK Red Star Belgrade–played out a 0-0 draw.
The Reds’ next continental fixture is on October 3, when they visit the Serie A outfit.