Monday 26 September 2016

Klopp can barely look as Reds stumble over the line

Liverpool 2-1 bordeaux

Chris Bascombe

Published 27/11/2015 | 02:30

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp celebrates with Simon Mignolet after the final whistle at Anfield last night
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp celebrates with Simon Mignolet after the final whistle at Anfield last night
Liverpool's James Milner celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot

Jurgen Klopp said he wants Liverpool fans to crave every second of his team's performances, but it was he who could not bear to watch the critical moment of the Europa League win over Bordeaux.

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When James Milner strode forward to take the 37th-minute penalty equaliser, Klopp's gaze was fixed elsewhere, monitoring the response of supporters and hoping to celebrate an equaliser.

They duly obliged, ensuring Simon Mignolet's earlier error was corrected before Christian Benteke secured the win to ensure Merseyside European interest is extended into the New Year.

Liverpool's keeper will be most relieved having been culpable when Henri Saivet put the French side ahead, while Benteke's inconsistent evening will be forgiven thanks to the class of his winning goal in first half injury-time.

The Belgium striker's goal was some solace to the Liverpool management after Daniel Sturridge suffered another injury setback in his recovery from injury, with a foot problem picked up training ruling him out of last night's game.

There was none of the majesty or composure of Liverpool's performance against Manchester City at the weekend, but Klopp will be relieved to secure his second home win since taking charge knowing there are vast improvements to be made.

Sion's defeat in Kuzan meant a victory would not only guarantee qualification, but also put Liverpool top of the group ahead of the final game. Such was Liverpool's erratic home form, however, that little was being taken for granted. Repeating the fluency so eye-catching at the Etihad last weekend proved problematic in the early stages.

Philippe Coutinho's absence through injury, and Adam Lallana starting on the bench seemed to have an especially detrimental impact on Firmino as he readjusted to new attacking partners. Having excelled as a striker at the weekend, the Brazilian's pairing with Benteke was not so flawless.

Twice the Brazilian squandered good positions as Liverpool sought momentum.

It reflected a broader initial hesitancy which was best summed up by their goalkeeper, who gifted Bordeaux the lead. When Mignolet held on to the ball for 22 seconds, Israeli referee Alon Yefet legitimately awarded an indirect free-kick in the penalty area. Jaroslav Plasil nudged the ball sideways to Henri Saivet, who picked out the top corner with the aid of a deflection.

Klopp took his frustration to the fourth official, but the lack of protest on the Kop demonstrated how often they had seen such goalkeeping uncertainty punished.

If that incident was contentious, Bordeaux had more cause for complaint when Liverpool equalised five minutes later. There was barely an appeal as Benteke fell under the challenge of Ludovic Sane, but the referee pointed to the spot. James Milner converted, although Klopp elected not to watch.

Prowess

With the tension eased Benteke - who had struggled for 45 minutes - demonstrated his finishing prowess in first-half injury time. Clyne crossed and Benteke controlled and smashed past Cedric Carrasso from the edge of the area.

There was more purpose and directness from the home side in the moments after the interval and Benteke thought he added his second on 53 minutes.

He tapped in from Milner's cross only to be told he had pushed Sane. It seemed harsh.

Ibe then forced Carrasso into a save from a tight angle as the match opened up, Bordeaux risking more in attack and leaving gaps at the back. Klopp sought more security when he sent on Emre Can for Joe Allen for the final 25 minutes.

Lallana also replaced Firmino as the anxiety started to return, Liverpool's lack of authority on their own turf still evident.

Bordeaux started to dominate possession without forcing Mignolet into consistent action, though he had to push away Saivet free-kick in injury time as Liverpool ensured next month's trip to Sion is now a fight for top spot.

Telegraph.co.uk

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