Origi makes it a happy return for Klopp
B Dortmund 1 Liverpool 1
Published 08/04/2016 | 02:30
As Jurgen Klopp knows only too well, having helped build the great Borussia Dortmund machine, this is a German club that has become accustomed to sweeping aside opposing teams, so for Liverpool to get out of town with their Europa League lives intact is the first part of the plan accomplished.
They are alive in the tournament, and having survived the kind of pounding that has made Dortmund one of the form teams of the year, they could yet make the semi-finals. At Anfield come Thursday, Liverpool's German manager will have the chance to bury the club where he cemented his reputation and pursue an unlikely first trophy in this his first English season.
Unbeaten since the turn of the year, Dortmund could not find a way to grind away Liverpool as they had done Tottenham Hotspur in the previous round, and the favourites even conceded a precious away goal, scored by Divock Origi. Klopp did not return to Dortmund to outplay the team he helped to build - few would be so foolish as to try that - but he did send out a team that was ready to compete in every department.
"I'm pretty sure a lot of people thought we would lose 2, 3 or 4-0," he said afterwards. "But at some moments we had Dortmund and around our goal we were brilliant.
"We are not that far on our way like they are and we cannot at the moment play like they play, but we can defend and score goals so we can win."
Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho made it a very ordinary night for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, later substituted and although Liverpool's two centre-halves lost Mats Hummels for the equaliser, this was a good night for Klopp's defenders. Just as they were in the club's great Champions League triumph of 2004-2005, Klopp's Liverpool are good at frustrating opponents and hanging on when it counts.
The omission of Daniel Sturridge from the starting line-up, unthinkable in the salad days of Brendan Rodgers' team's 2013-2014 title charge, was a decision that hinted at the beginning of the long goodbye. This was a night when Klopp envisaged his team being under sustained pressure and he needed all the energy he could putting Dortmund's defence under the pump.
Sturridge is an exceptional finisher but for the kind of Liverpool team that Klopp needs now, at the end of this strange, disjointed season, he is not always going to be the right man. Sturridge may well have been in the right place to finish the chance from which Origi scored before half-time but the Belgian striker's goal alone was vindication for Klopp's decision.
"Divock was made for this game with the space he can make and how he can hold the ball," added the perceptive Liverpool boss.
It would be right to say that Liverpool's goal was not in keeping with much of the first half when they found themselves on the back foot against the home side. There was a header from Lovren on 21 minutes when he met James Milner's free-kick from the right and forced a good save from Roman Weidenfeller, but that opportunity should have been flagged offside anyway.
Dortmund could not match the fluency of some of their build-up play with the decisiveness required to put the ball in the net, especially with bodies being hurled in front of the ball by the men in red shirts. Sakho got himself in front of the best of those chances on 17 minutes when Henrikh Mkhitaryan looked like he had the time and the space to pick his corner of the goal.
Once sought after by Liverpool, Mkhitaryan is a sophisticated, quick-footed linker of the play who has flourished under Thomas Tuchel and it was the Armenian's clever ball in to Aubameyang just before half-time that looked like it had unlocked the away defence. But Aubameyang could not get to the ball quick enough to get a clean shot away.
There was a late burst of action after that with Marco Reus' shot stopped by Simon Mignolet and then yet another chance at the other end for Origi, played in this time by Alberto Moreno. On this occasion he was square on to Weidenfeller and the goalkeeper was able to block the shot.
The goal had come from the left side, Moreno's ball flicked on by Milner and into the path of Origi who ran directly at goal and then turned back to shoot behind the pursuing full-back Lukasz Piszczek. The goal shocked the home crowd, who had been anticipating a breakthrough from their team at some point soon.
The Dortmund fans were angry with the Spanish referee Czarlos Velasco Carballo whom they felt had not protected Weidenfeller after Lovren and Adam Lallana had converged on him following the former's header. The goalkeeper was booked at the end of the half for pressing his case further and there was more discontent.
Klopp substituted his captain Jordan Henderson at half-time, another blow for the Englishman who is struggling with something at the moment - be it fitness or slotting into the kind of role that his new manager wants him to play. In his place came Joe Allen, in the hope that he and Emre Can could keep the ball a little longer and alleviate the pressure.
There was, for Klopp, only bad news at the start of the second half when Dortmund equalised within the first five minutes. A short corner on the right wing created the angle for a ball into the centre of the penalty area, where Hummels found himself with only Lallana to out-jump to direct his header past Mignolet.
For the final period of the game, Liverpool abandoned their pressing and sat back to soak up the pressure that was applied on them. Milner operated in front of the back four with Can and Allen ahead of him while Lallana and Coutinho tucked in on the wings. They had their result for Anfield in a week's time, and they just hung onto it well.(© Daily Telegraph, London)