Thursday 22 August 2019

'It's a special night, very special' - Jurgen Klopp hails his team after 'top three' victory of his career

Jurgen Klopp celebrates with his team following the match. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Jurgen Klopp celebrates with his team following the match. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Simon Peach

Jurgen Klopp lauded his "unbelievable" players for a special victory against Barcelona that propelled this group into the Champions League final and Liverpool folklore.

Few expected to see the Reds make it to next month's Madrid finale after a 3-0 first-leg defeat at the Nou Camp, but the five-time European champions will face Ajax or Tottenham after digging deep in complete a 4-3 comeback on aggregate.

Asked where this victory ranks, manager Klopp said with a smile: "Top three. It's a special night, very special. Winning against Barcelona is obviously one of the most difficult things in the world of football.

"Winning against Barcelona when you're 3-0 down, makes it not easier. We had to score four goals and was not allowed to concede pretty much. We made it more difficult We attacked with whatever we have and can throw on the pitch. That made it a really special game, it made us really difficult to play against tonight.

Punished

"If you have chances, you have to score because otherwise you get punished.Tonight we scored, in different ways.

"I said it so often now but the thing that made it really possible - and I said to the boys before 'I don't think it's possible but because it's you I think we have a chance' - they are really mentality giants. It's unbelievable."

Elsewhere, Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets apologised to the club's fans after his side were sent tumbling out of the competition.

It is the second year in a row Barca have thrown away a three-goal lead from the first leg to exit the competition, having been knocked out in the quarter-finals by AS Roma last season following a 3-0 surrender in the Italian capital.

"They were better than us, they went all out to win the game from the start and we really struggled with their pressure especially at the start of both halves," a despondent Busquets told reporters.

"I can't say anything else, all I can do is say sorry to our supporters because, after last year in Rome, to go out like this after such a good result in the first leg is very tough, there's little else to say."

Barca looked on course to reach the final for the first time since 2015 after Lionel Messi inspired them to victory in the first leg but they were overwhelmed by Liverpool's pressure and went behind in the seventh minute to Divock Origi's strike. Busquets said his side were powerless to cope with Liverpool's pressing game.

"Once they scored and they pressed us high it was very difficult. I think we had the chance to score the goal that we needed but it wasn't to be," the midfielder said.

"When you face a team like this which presses you very high up the pitch and you don't make the most of second balls they just keep pushing further forward and with this atmosphere it was very difficult."

Substitute Georginio Wijnaldum scored twice in the space of two minutes early in the second half to level the tie on aggregate.

Origi then put Liverpool ahead in the tie for the first time thanks to some quick thinking from Trent Alexander-Arnold from a corner which caught Barca unawares.

"The fourth goal was a mistake from everyone as we were all taken by surprise. They were more clever than us to take the corner quickly and then they played by themselves," Busquets added.

"If we'd have scored it would have changed everything, we had the chances to do it, now it's very difficult to think of things to say."

Irish Independent

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