Monday 22 January 2018

Jurgen Klopp hails Trent Alexander-Arnold's 'balls' after Liverpool youngster's free-kick in Hoffenheim

Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold after the match REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski
Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold after the match REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

Mark Critchley

Jurgen Klopp hailed Trent Alexander-Arnold's ‘balls’ after the 18-year-old’s brilliant first-half free-kick set Liverpool on their way to a 2-1 victory in Hoffenheim.

The West Derby youngster’s night was dampened somewhat, however, by a mistake which allowed Mark Uth to score and give the Bundesliga outfit hope of progressing through this Champions League play-off tie.

Alexander-Arnold allowed Uth to slip in behind Liverpool’s defensive line in the closing stages, believing the Hoffenheim substitute to be offside, but the flag stayed down and Liverpool’s advantage was halved.

When asked whether he was concerned by the youngster’s error, Klopp elected to defend Alexander-Arnold and paid particular attention to the youngster’s sublime goal.

“Well I have to say for an 18-year-old who has the balls to take a free kick like that it is rather exciting and interesting for me than a little mistake he did,” he said.

“It was rather an intense game for him, and he thought the goal was offside, but it was unfortunately not offside,” Klopp added. “I must say, I'd rather have a 2-1 than 1-0.”

Klopp revealed that Alexander-Arnold’s dead ball ability was noticed at Melwood, where the academy graduate regularly competes with fellow teenager Ben Woodburn in free-kick competitions.

The Liverpool manager said: “[The free kick] was actually because I told him he had to do it. He was the only one who can... he can shoot free kicks better than I ever could.

“I told him because I watched him many times for Under-23s last season and he took the free kicks, and]] by the way the goal is the same size.

Julian Nagelsmann, Hoffenheim’s head coach, felt his side were unlucky not to take a draw or more back to Anfield on the night, having created chances, dominated possession for large spells and seen an early Andrej Kramaric penalty saved.

The prodigious 30-year-old took particular exception to Klopp’s claim that Liverpool had allowed their opponents to have the ball in unimportant areas of the pitch.

“No I don’t agree, we had the ball in many important spaces. He has to say that and defend his team, he won’t say ‘Hoffenheim played so well and we were s***’.

“I can give one example when Wagner played a square pass into space that was an important ball and another situations with Serge Gnabry and many others.”

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