Jurgen Klopp rued Liverpool’s inability to maintain their momentum as they suffered a 5-2 comeback defeat to Real Madrid after a breathtaking start.
Liverpool raced into a 2-0 lead at Anfield on Tuesday, seemingly putting themselves in a great position in their Champions League last-16 tie.
But Madrid had wiped out their lead by half-time and ultimately romped home to a stunning victory as they became the first team to put five past the Reds at Anfield in Europe.
Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah got the Liverpool goals before Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema scored braces either side of Eder Militao’s header – both teams’ second goals came from glaring goalkeeping errors.
Klopp was noticeably dejected at full-time, but he did not appear especially angry.
Instead, he was keen to highlight how he felt Liverpool looked like their old selves again during the first half before being knocked off course.
“The beginning was outstanding,” he told BT Sport. “It was us in a nutshell. It was perfect, exactly how we wanted to play, causing problems all over the place. A super intense start, 2-0 up. The whole first half was good beside the goals.
6 – Karim Benzema has scored more goals against Liverpool than any other player in European Cup/Champions League history with six, scoring four of them at Anfield, also the most by an away player in the competition. Brilliant. #UCL pic.twitter.com/NBiQ3EeM1H
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 21, 2023
“After the first goal we became slightly passive higher up the pitch, we weren’t chasing them, and we had to chase them because this is a team that when you get passive, you get punished. The second goal is slapstick. It shouldn’t happen, can’t happen, 2-2.
“The first situation pretty much [after half-time] they played a long ball to Vinicius. I’m not sure if it’s a foul, but in the end [the referee] whistles it, and how we defend that is not OK. Then 3-2 and that doesn’t help against a team who are outstandingly good on the counter-attack.
“We couldn’t get back on track anymore. You need to play like the first half for the full 95 minutes. That’s possible, but you need momentum back. After the 3-2 goal, it was exactly the opposite.
“They became more confident and scored great goals. One was deflected, I think. That’s how it is. It’s a strange one. We lost 5-2, we know that too, but there’s a lot from me to take from it as well.”
Liverpool go to Madrid for the second leg on March 15, knowing they require something akin to a miracle if they are to eliminate the reigning champions and secure their unlikely passage to the quarter-finals.
First, though, the Reds go to Crystal Palace on Saturday hoping to make it three wins in a row in the Premier League. Victory at Selhurst Park will move them to within three points of the top four.
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