Saturday 24 March 2018

Klopp defends Sturridge over fans snub as Reds slip up

Swansea 3 Liverpool 1

Liverpool's Dejan Lovren and Swansea's Andre Ayew compete for possession during the Premier League clash. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters
Liverpool's Dejan Lovren and Swansea's Andre Ayew compete for possession during the Premier League clash. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters
A ejected Daniel Sturridge leaves the pitch at the end of the game. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters
Liverpool's Sheyi Ojo in challenged for the ball by Swansea's Kyle Naughton during the match. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp during the match. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters

Graham Clutton

Jurgen Klopp defended Daniel Sturridge's decision to walk straight down the tunnel after Liverpool's defeat at Swansea.

Sturridge failed to join his fellow players in applauding the travelling Liverpool fans at the end of the game, in what many people believe was a response to having played the full 90 minutes.

Although Klopp insisted he had not picked the side for Thursday's Europa League semi-final second leg against Villarreal, the fact Sturridge was not withdrawn - and played alongside a load of second-stringers - suggests he is an unlikely starter.

Sturridge was quick to send out a tweet last night, belatedly thanking the fans for their support and hoping for improved fortunes later this week, saying: "Absolutely gutted. Thanks to the fans for travelling and supporting us."

Klopp, who was rightly disappointed with his side's performance, said: "He was not ignoring the fans, I went in immediately also.

"You want to go home, rest and recover after a game like that. It is my fault if someone does not say thank you, it is down to me.

"I spoke to him at half-time and he said he wanted to play and it was no problem. We have a few days. I am happy. I do not know who will play against Villarreal."

Sturridge looked the most likely candidate to snatch an early goal as Liverpool stood toe to toe with a rejuvenated Swansea. His quality on the ball and ability to fashion a yard of space for himself might have led to Liverpool taking the lead.

However, once Swansea settled, the visitors struggled to establish a platform.


Gylfi Sigurdsson was denied by Welsh goalkeeper Danny Ward. Liverpool failed to heed the warning and on 21 minutes, Francesco Guidolin's side scored, when Andre Ayew rose to head home a corner.

There was nothing Ward could do about Jack Cork's 33rd-minute strike. The former Southampton man dispossessed Philippe Coutinho close to half way, strode forward and beat Ward from 25 yards.

The visitors improved after the break. Lucas provided greater stability in the central area with fellow substitute Christian Benteke providing support for Sturridge.

The visitors got their reward when Sheyi Ojo's corner picked out Benteke, who from three yards beat the helpless Fabianski.

But Liverpool's joy turned to despair two minutes later when the lively Ayew arrived on the end of a cross from the left and after fending off all-comers, found the bottom corner from 12 yards.

Any hopes Liverpool might have had disappeared 14 minutes from time when Brad Smith was sent off for a second yellow card.

Klopp said: "We tried to bring fresh legs in as we have done in the last few weeks, but I am frustrated because we could have played better.

"The first two goals were too easy. They deserved the win and we deserved the defeat but we have to recover and prepare for a big game on Thursday.

"However, I am not changing my mind on these players. Everyone said how good they were after Bournemouth, but it is not always a honeymoon period and you have to prove yourself and deliver." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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