Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed the passion of his players and claimed they “fought like devils” in their miraculous comeback against Borussia Dortmind which sealed their passage to the semi-finals of the Europa League.
Klopp’s men rallied from 3-1 down to complete a 4-3 victory on the night, meaning they advance to the last-four 5-4 on aggregate in a night the German described as “not to be forgotten” at Anfield.
Dortmund were able to race into a 3-1 lead in the tie after Henri Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck twice in the first 10 minutes of the return leg before Marco Reus added another in the second half after Divock Origi pulled one back for the hosts.
However, Philippe Coutinho and Mamadou Sakho struck to level the scores at 3-3 before the winner from Dejan Lovren right at the death.
“It’s difficult to explain,” Klopp told BT Sport. “It was a wonderful night at Anfield and to be honest the game was strange.
“From the beginning, the whole game showed the quality of Dortmund. They took nearly every chance they had.
“A team with counter attacking quality of Dortmund is a killer. Staying in the game was absolutely great. We brought Joe [Allen] and Daniel [Sturridge] on as a message – we wanted to show character and we didn’t care if we lost.
“In the end, we did a bit more than that. That is what football can be at its best – a wonderful experience – and it’s hard to believe that it really happened like this.”
Liverpool drew 1-1 in Dortmund a week earlier on Klopp’s return to his old stomping ground, but their precious away goal was quickly cancelled out at Anfield.
In the end it did not matter, and Klopp paid tribute to the bravery of his players in fighting to the end.
“At half time, with the score at 2-0, it is difficult to stay brave,” he said. “But we had a little agreement and discussed the easy way each person can go – but we have to go hard way.
“To stay in the race is rare. When it happens, it’s outstanding.
“I’m pleased for everyone here who saw the game. It’s easy for each fan who is only a football fan. They will think ‘Okay, football is a nice game.'”
Klopp played down his own part in the result, adding: “My role is not too important in this moment.
“We had a good plan in the first half but conceded two goals, so you can throw your plan in the purple bin. It was not easy to change.
“The game was intensive and Dortmund lost more and more, their passing ability decreased, and we always had our moments.
“In my opinion, if it’s as close as tonight – and Dort were better for parts of the night – then you need passion. You need to start to believe. It was nice to see how with each goal we came back into the game.
“It’s deserved. We had a lot of chances and fought like devils. It is a little bit lucky of course when you score in the 93rd minute.”
When asked whether Liverpool would go on to win the competition Klopp remained coy, saying: “The Spanish teams are stronger.
“I never understood why people said who wins this game will win the trophy, but if we are in the final, we will be ready.”
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