Jurgen Klopp admitted it was difficult to explain how Liverpool exited the Champions League at the hands of Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night, and doesn’t understand why the Spaniards “play like that”.
A defensive Atletico rode their luck in large parts at Anfield, but came from 2-0 down to win 3-2, progressing to the quarter-final 4-2 on aggregate, with Adrian at fault for at least one of their goals.
Klopp seemed dumbfounded by the result after the game, questioning Atletico’s playing style, but still insisted he was happy with Liverpool’s performance, with the Reds registering 35 shots on goal.
“We saw all the goals we conceded, we shouldn’t concede these kind of goals,” he told BT Sport. “Tonight, it is difficult to explain these goals, but it is like it is.
“I don’t understand with the quality they have the football they play. They could play proper football but they stand deep and have counter-attacks.
“I realise I am a really bad loser, especially when the boys put such an effort in against world-class players on the other side who defend with two rows of four. It doesn’t feel right tonight, to be honest.”
He then said in his post-match press conference: “I am a really under-average loser, to be honest, at least tonight. I could say a lot of things and I would look like the worst loser in the world. The way they play I just don’t get it. But the winner is right. That is how it is.”
Referring to Adrian’s miscued kick to Joao Felix, who then fed Marcos Llorente to score to make it 2-1 on the night, Klopp said: “We score the second goal and then everyone sees their first goal. The pass was not really helpful.
“Adrian is a lovely boy but in this moment he makes the wrong decision. In that moment, usually conceding a goal is part of football and shouldn’t have a massive influence. But in this moment, the momentum changed. Before that, Madrid were wondering how they should cope. Before that, everything felt natural for us. Then we became a bit stiff and they became a bit fresher in the legs. They score two goals.”
Klopp admitted after the game that Liverpool had rode their own luck in Europe in previous seasons, reaching the final in the last two years and winning last term.
This time, luck was against them, but Klopp did not wish to complain.
“We have had lucky moments in the Champions League before. Most of the time we really deserved it, but we had some lucky moments as well. Tonight we are out. Atletico won both games, they deserve it. Everybody knows we will go again. We will come again.”
There will be criticism of Adrian, who played in place of the injured Alisson, in the aftermath of the game, but Klopp urged his critics to stay respectful.
“Come on, he is a man and he knows. We don’t blame him for a second. What you do, I don’t know about you, but stay respectful, that would be nice. He has saved us in so many moments since he has been here. He has had super performances. This goal didn’t help but that’s how it is.
“If you lose a game you always lose it for some reason. Tonight, this was not the moment when we lost the game. It had an impact but it was one goal. We conceded two more goals after that. We didn’t score the goals. There were plenty of reasons why we didn’t go through.
“But always when you are in the public, people will judge you. But he’s a man, a grown man, and he will live with that.”
Van Dijk pays Oblak tribute
While Adrian was enduring a difficult night at the other end, Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak produced a string of fine saves to stop Liverpool winning the match in normal time, before the visitors’ stunning comeback in the additional 30 minutes.
After the game, Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk singled out the Slovenia goalkeeper as one of the defining factors in Atletico’s win.
He told Sky Sports: “Everything happened as we wanted, we created a lot of chances, the only thing was they had quite a good goalkeeper in their team and that’s also part of football.
“It’s a big blow, especially when we were in the final two years ago, and won it last season. We were close, we played outstanding for 95 minutes.”
Liverpool go to Everton on Monday Night Football, live on Sky Sports Premier League at 8pm, while Atletico go to Athletic Bilbao at 3pm on Sunday in La Liga.
Everton vs Liverpool
March 16, 2020, 7:00pm