Jurgen Klopp admits he was really delighted with Philippe Coutinho “genius moment” which guided Liverpool to move into the Europa League quarter-final at the expense of their arch rivals Manchester United.
The 23-year-old Brazilian’s moment of brilliance, just before the break, handed Liverpool a vital away goal and literally punctured the Old Trafford atmosphere as Klopp’s boys secured a 1-1 draw and won the tie 3-1 on aggregate. Klopp also believes the exciting clash was effectively Liverpool v David de Gea after the Spanish goalkeeper’s exceptional display seven days earlier at Anfield. The draw for the next round will take place later today.
“It was nice and intense,” Klopp reacted. “You could feel the atmosphere again. They tried to play really offensive but we had our chances, it was Liverpool v De Gea. He was unbelievable again. We scored an unbelievable situation. Fantastic. The game changed. He [Coutinho] is a young lad still but he thinks about it. It was a perfect game and Philippe’s goal a genius moment.”
When the German was asked about who he would want to meet next, the former Borussia Dortmund head manager replied with an energetic smile: “All my friends in Dortmund want to play us – but only in Basel [in the final]. Dortmund? Of course not. Why should I want the strongest team in the next round? If we have to go there, we will try to win but there are no easy games anymore in this competition.”
Jordan Henderson seemed a bit sick at the break but Klopp replaced his skipper after 71 minutes. “Jordan vomited at half-time but then said he felt better. Everyone knows this feeling,” he said. “We knew they would show a reaction [from the first leg] and of course, it was much more intensive from Manchester United than the first game.
“They were really direct with long balls to [Marouane] Fellaini and it was hard to react. We had a few problems in the first half, they won too many second balls but when we got the ball and used the time we had, and we often had more time then we thought, we created big chances. But De Gea had another good night in what has been a successful career.
“They got a penalty, I thought it was a penalty. I was very happy in the minutes before half-time because twice we reacted quicker than the opponent. Phil produced his brilliant moment and of course, it decided the game.”
The only regret for Jurgen Klopp would be David de Gea’s brilliant display yet again as he managed to keep the score down over the two legs while Liverpool might conceivably have netted several more in both the fixtures. Klopp will also be grateful that Marcos Rojo couldn’t convert a close-range chance which would have made the scoreline 2-2 on aggregate.
However, Coutinho’s goal came four minutes later, on a night when the Brazilian was outstanding to decorate the pitch, and Liverpool had put themselves in a secured position where scoring even once was always seemed to be decisive. From that tricky position, no one would have envisaged such a poor toothless United side turning the tie upside-down.