Jurgen Klopp lamented Liverpool’s failure to take their chances in the second leg against Real Madrid at Anfield, but admitted: “We didn’t lose the tie tonight – we definitely lost it in Madrid”.
The Reds’ Champions League campaign was ended by opponents from the Spanish capital for a second successive season, Madrid holding on for a 0-0 draw on Merseyside for a 3-1 aggregate triumph in the quarter-final clash.
Liverpool needed at least two goals to turn the tie around, but were unable to find a way through at home, despite creating a number of excellent opportunities – particularly in the opening 45 minutes.
They attempted 13 shots from inside the box – their most in a Champions League home game without scoring since March 2006 against Benfica (20) – but managed just four on-target efforts.
“You always need those key moments. The performance in general was good – we didn’t lose the tie tonight, we definitely lost it in Madrid,” Klopp told BT Sport.
“It was uncomfortable for Madrid, definitely. We were good, we were aggressive and played some really good stuff, obviously massive chances at the beginning of the game.
“It’s hypothetical I know, but if you use one of them, it feels different. They had already started to struggle, and it would have increased that. But it is ‘ifs’ and ‘when’, because we didn’t score.
“It became more and more difficult and then with the experience of Real Madrid; they played the time down.”
9 – This was Liverpool’s ninth two-legged knockout tie in the UEFA Champions League under Jürgen Klopp, and only the second time they have failed to win both home and away in the tie (also versus Atlético de Madrid in the Last 16 in 2019-20). Real. pic.twitter.com/7oR5lW4hWL
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 14, 2021
Mohamed Salah failed to convert from Sadio Mane’s square pass inside the opening two minutes as Liverpool started quickly, while the Egyptian and Georginio Wijnaldum were guilty of missing the target completely when presented with clear-cut openings before the half-time interval.
For Klopp, the inability to apply the finish to some excellent approach play summed up the 2020-21 season as a whole.
“It’s a little bit ourselves this year with our finishing. We’ve had games here – ridiculous games – where we should have won. Not tonight, but in the Premier League where we just don’t finish the situation off,” he said.
“We have to take that, we all know how often Mo Salah finishes these kinds of things, with closed eyes pretty much. We had a lot of situations – and could have had more. The football we played around was even better than the chances we created.”
Klopp admitted his substitutions affected the rhythm of his team, with the European exit now meaning the focus solely shifts to finishing in the top four of the Premier League.
Thiago Alcantara and Diogo Jota were introduced at the hour mark, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Xherdan Shaqiri came on with just under 10 minutes remaining.
“Second half, after 60 minutes, they took a bit more control, more of the ball. We made the changes and maybe timing wise it wasn’t exactly right, we wanted fresh legs but we didn’t come through that well,” the Liverpool boss continued.
“We lost a little bit of rhythm and tried too hard. Tonight it was absolutely okay, but we are out anyway.
“We love this competition, and for different reasons it is very important to the club. It doesn’t make it easier now, because the two or three games we could have fitted easily in our schedule.
“Obviously we can now concentrate on the Premier League. That is what we do – Monday at Leeds is the next challenge. They are leading the league in all physical stats, so we will have to run and work our socks off to get anything.”
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