Saturday 24 February 2018

Origi's last-gasp leveller gives 'animated' Klopp last laugh after dugout clash with Pulis

Liverpool 2-2 West brom

Jurgen Klopp eye-balls Tony Pulis after Liverpool’s late equaliser
Jurgen Klopp eye-balls Tony Pulis after Liverpool’s late equaliser
Liverpool's Alberto Moreno (left) and West Bromwich Albion's Darren Fletcher (right) battle for the ball
Liverpool's Emre Can in action with West Brom's James McClean
Jonas Olsson (hidden) scores the second goal for West Brom

Chris Bascombe

Never has a home draw at Anfield been celebrated with such a mixture of rage, delight and exasperation.

Having seen his side equalise in the sixth minute of injury-time against West Brom, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp ignored the hand of Tony Pulis, exchanged (un)pleasantries with members of the visiting coaching staff, marched on to the pitch and insisted his players salute the Kop.

They sheepishly obliged as their manager assumed the role of manic choreographer.

Divock Origi's deflected effort had just earned a draw for the Reds and Klopp was in tub-thumping mood.

He refused to elaborate why beyond an admission "this was not a friendly game".

Having seen Dejan Lovren seriously injured by Craig Gardner's tackle - the Croatian needed stitches and left on crutches - many were filling in the gaps.

However, Klopp refused to criticise Gardner for his challenge or expand on his disagreement with Pulis.


"He (Gardner) played the ball, a millisecond before he hit Dejan," he added.

"It was like the whole game, on the edge of everything. I am not sure the ref saw it. We hope it (Lovren's injury) is not too serious but we have to wait for the scan.

"Everything could have happened in this situation but hopefully we'll have more luck than in previous situations (with injured players)."

On Pulis he said: "I didn't see him after the game. I can say nothing. We had some words in the game; sometimes it takes more than a few seconds to cool down.

"Usually I shake hands, I did not today because it was not a friendly game."

In a more reflective moment he will reflect if he wants his side to turn the corner they will have to learn to defend one as defending set-pieces again undermined their ambitions.

"It was only one point but it felt like three - an explosion," Klopp said. "It was the best atmosphere in my time in England, absolutely great and I wanted to say thank you.

"Sometimes a point deserved in the right way is more important, for development. To stay in the game, that is a big moment in football.

"I really enjoyed this game, I enjoyed the atmosphere with my whole body."

Pulis witnessed that from the closest quarters, as Klopp's celebration of the equaliser was in full view of the visitors' bench.

The West Brom manager played down any perceived animosity with Klopp, insisting he was more annoyed about not leaving with three points.

"He has got to do what he has got to do. I am more disappointed about the way they came back to make it 2-2," he said.

"He is animated. I have been animated all my life on the bench. I have no problems with that. We have come here, tried to be resilient. I don't think there was a booking during the game. The big disappointment was they got that goal."

West Brom were on the verge of victory after Craig Dawson and Jonas Olsson overturned Jordan Henderson's 21st minute opener and it's possible the sheer predictability of the game irked Klopp most.

There are times when you know the story before the narrator has uttered the first word.

West Bromwich Albion are coming to town armed with four centre-halves and a muscle man in attack - how will they line-up? Do not expect too many twists in this tale.

Klopp had warned his side to be patient in attack and avoid conceding daft free-kicks and corners.

His side diligently worked its way into the lead, only to gift two goals in the only circumstances you could imagine the Baggies scoring.

Pulis' decision to play four centre-halves was deceptive - in the early stages it was eight defenders with Salomon Rondon forming his own lonely hearts' club upfield.

Jonny Evans has been reinvented as an anchorman, but for 30 minutes Liverpool were too fleet of foot, first to every loose ball and prone to the kind of long, diagonal ball when the opportunity arose which must have had Pulis nodding in approval.

From one such move Liverpool took the lead. Alberto Moreno picked out Adam Lallana, who headed the ball invitingly into Henderson's path and he volleyed it home first-time to celebrate his first Anfield start since August with what Klopp hoped would leave the visitors' exposed.

It made what followed on the half-hour unforgivable from Liverpool's perspective.

A corner from Chris Brunt was greeted with a flapping fist from Simon Mignolet, Rondon headed the ball into dangerous territory and in the scramble Craig Dawson converted.

Liverpool working hard to score, the opposition having to do very little to do so - this has been the case at Anfield for too long.


The Kop blamed Mignolet, but Klopp defended the Belgian. "I said to Simon at half-time, if somebody says it was your fault, it is not true - it is my fault. I want a keeper who comes out and tries for everything," Klopp said.

But for strange officiating, West Brom would have led on the stroke of half-time.

Olsson was celebrating meeting Gardner's free-kick for 30 seconds until referee Craig Pawson was summoned by his assistant Richard West.

They decided, correctly, that the West Brom defender was offside when he met the cross. Why West failed to raise the flag needs further explanation.

Pulis was livid, the Kop relieved.

Olsson would not be denied, however, and he headed his side ahead on 72 minutes.

Liverpool's toils looked in vain until Origi's hopeful strike was deflected by Gareth McAuley past Boaz Myhill.

Klopp's fuse was lit, but the Anfield Premier League revival has stalled.

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