Monday 19 August 2019

Three and easy for Klopp after Ibe's second-half strike

Rubin Kazan 0 Liverpool 1

Elmir Nabiullin of FC Rubin Kazan is challenged by Jordon Ibe of Liverpool FC during the UEFA Europa League group B match at the Kazan Arena Stadium on November 05, 2015 in Moscow, Russia
Elmir Nabiullin of FC Rubin Kazan is challenged by Jordon Ibe of Liverpool FC during the UEFA Europa League group B match at the Kazan Arena Stadium on November 05, 2015 in Moscow, Russia

Chris Bascombe

Liverpool's makeover under Jurgen Klopp grows ever more eye-catching. as Jordon Ibe's winner in Kazan took the Klopp Anfield transformation on tour.

Ibe was one of several players who looked bereft of confidence and direction a few weeks ago but was exceptional here.

His superbly taken strike on 53 minutes - his first for the club - was symptomatic of the face change so many have undergone over the last six games. Klopp remains unbeaten since he moved to Anfield and now has three consecutive victories.

Moreover, the style and quality is increasingly evident with each win. Liverpool were unrecognisable from the team who faced Kazan at Anfield two weeks ago, let alone the team that's limped through Europe for the last few years.

This was a European venture in which the performance and result were in tandem, Liverpool worthy of a far greater advantage before Kazan banished their defensive caution in the last 10 minutes.

We will come to recognise this as the prototype Klopp performance - full of energy, high tempo with midfielders scurrying like deranged mice on a cheese hunt to retrieve possession when it was lost.

The only flaw was a failure not to score more than once - a more comfortable cushion was warranted before the defence was summoned from its prolonged period of unemployment - but as a foundation this will serve to only swell belief in the new manager's methods.

"The first 80 minutes was really good," said Klopp. "It was not easy to play because it was fantastic atmosphere but the pitch is not in the same shape as the rest of the stadium. We could have had more and we deserved our goal and then we have to learn to win. We had 1-0 and lost rhythm and opened the door for Rubin Kazan. They fought for their lives and it was great to see how much they wanted to win."

It had been just under three years since Liverpool last won away in Europe, with the line-up that defeated Udinese in the Europa League in December 2012 demonstrating the scale of the transition since then.

Of the starters then and now only Joe Allen remained in the 11 in Russia. Liverpool have been to some esteemed venues since and their reputation has taken a battering.

They used to conquer Europe like battle-scarred warriors. Recently they've resembled Dad's Army aiming plastic guns at unflustered enemies. This was as good as they've been away in a long time.

Klopp's determination to change perceptions was evident in a strong line-up which included Christian Benteke - the first time he has started since September.

"We've not travelled five hours for a friendly," said Klopp. "I only make the teams to win the next game, not to give a players a rest.

Liverpool should have led before Kazan had touched the ball, a prolonged period of possession for the first four minutes ending with Roberto Firmino's sorcery - nutmegging his Russian marker - to send James Milner clear. The midfielder struck the bar. Bad luck or poor finishing depending on your perspective. No matter. The white shirts kept swarming.

The reward finally came on 53 minutes, Kazan carved open by the excellent Firmino's clever flick freeing up the centre of the park for Ibe to take advantage.

The youngster's pace and control was matched by the poise of the finish as he stroked past Ryzhikov, in off the post.

"He is a good lad and a big talent - a very skilled player," said Klopp of Ibe. "He has a really good base and he feels good. But he has a lot to learn. If he is prepared for this then everything will be good."

Just like so many other things under Klopp at the club. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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