Jurgen Klopp gives fitness update on Virgil van Dijk and admits he was fearful of extra time in FIFA Club World Cup
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has revealed Virgil van Dijk missed the FIFA World Club Cup semi-final win against Monterrey due to illness and admitted he may not be fit to play in Saturday's final against Flamengo.
Roberto Firmino's last gasp strike secured a 2-1 win for the reigning European champions in Qatar, with Van Dijk's absence a concern for Liverpool as midfielder Jordan Henderson had to fill the void created in the defence.
Yet Klopp openly conceded he had no choice to make over his defensive talisman, on a night when Joe Gomez formed a make-shift defensive line with Henderson.
"It was an easy decision actually because he couldn't train," stated Klopp of Van Dijk. "He was yesterday on the (training) pitch for a couple of minutes until the media left and then, unfortunately, he had to leave as well. Not because of the media, just because he didn't feel well.
"So yesterday no training was possible, this morning no training possible, so it was an easy decision – he couldn't play. It was difficult for Hendo to deal with, but he did really good. We will see, I don't know how quick he can recover. We will see."
Firmino converted a cross from another of Klopp's substitutes Trent Alexander-Arnold for the winner, after Naby Keita's third goal in as many games was quickly cancelled out by Rogelio Funes Mori, twin brother of former Everton defender Ramiro.
"I was actually afraid of extra time so I was more than happy that Bobby scored that goal," said Klopp.
"We had to do a few changes because we had no other options but we wanted to do some other changes which meant we left Trent, Bobby and Sadio (Mane) off.
"I didn't see it go in because there were so many players in front of me but I saw the reaction of the goalkeeper so I could start celebrating."
Liverpool were disjointed and reliant on goalkeeper Alisson Becker for a number of saves.
At the other end Mohamed Salah, relishing playing in front of a mainly Arabic crowd, pulled the strings.
"The attention Salah gets in this part of the country is massive and I thought he played sensationally and dealt really well with it," said Klopp.
"Until the last minute he was there for the balls in behind. They tried to defend him with two guys from time to time and be really aggressive. I was really happy with Mo's game."
Salah was not happy with some of the close attention he received, however.
"I think it was a very tough game, they were very disciplined against us and all of us were feeling our legs," he said.
"They were very aggressive and the referee didn't protect us too much but I'm not here to complain about it."