Thomas Tuchel called for Borussia Dortmund to “take the defeat like a champion” after they were knocked out of the Europa League by Liverpool on a night of high drama at Anfield.
The Bundesliga side led 3-1 in the second leg of the quarter-final tie on Thursday with 30 minutes to play, giving them a 4-2 aggregate advantage over their hosts.
However, after Liverpool drew level on the night with goals from Philippe Coutinho and Mamadou Sakho, Dejan Lovren headed in an injury-time winner to send the hosts through to the last four.
Tuchel struggled to comprehend what had happened after seeing Dortmund collapse in the face of a rousing comeback from their opponents.
“I can’t explain it. It was not logical. It was very emotional, but you cannot explain it,” he told BT Sport.
“At the end, when the 3-3 happened, everybody believed that it was meant to be for them. It was a kind of destiny. If you have such a strong belief, things happen.
“If things like this happen, you have to accept it. You have to be an honourable loser, you have to stand up to it and congratulate Liverpool.
“You have to take the defeat like a champion.”
Having drawn 1-1 in the first leg in Germany, Dortmund made a fast start to the return fixture with two away goals in the opening nine minutes.
After Henrikh Mkhitaryan had opened the scoring by tapping home a rebound, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang doubled the visitors’ advantage by converting Marco Reus’ throughball.
Even when Liverpool halved the deficit through Divock Origi early in the second half, Dortmund responded through Reus to restore their two-goal cushion.
“We could have scored more. We could have scored a third goal,” Tuchel admitted.
“We never moved three goals away, but still it [a two-goal lead] should have been enough.
“We lost control. I don’t know why exactly, but it never felt we could lose this game. If you don’t smell the fear you’re not at the highest level.”