Jurgen Klopp shoulders blame for Liverpool’s defensive fragility in second leg of Champions League quarter-final


Liverpool may have reached the Champions League semi-finals with a 6-4 aggregate win over S.L. Benfica, but manager Jurgen Klopp says that he takes responsibility for their fragility in Wednesday night’s 3-3 second leg draw against the Portuguese side.

The Reds had led 1-0 and 3-1 at Anfield with little more than 25 minutes remaining, though conceded to both Roman Yaremchuk and Darwin Nunez in the closing stages. Visitors Benfica also saw two goals ruled out for offside on the night with Liverpool far from their best throughout.

Speaking in his press conference having guided the club to a third UCL semi-final in his near seven-year tenure, German boss Klopp didn’t shy away from the blame.

“When you defend in the Champions League quarter-finals, it’s about the details,” said Klopp.

“It’s part of defending to put the opponent [into an]offside [position]and tonight it didn’t work out too well but that’s my fault because I made seven changes.

“The last line have never played together like this. When we lost the ball, our protection was obviously not perfect. We missed the boys of the last line, the voice of the last line – Virgil [Van Dijk].

“I know that we will talk about the game, the goals we conceded, and all of these things, but the day when I’m not over the moon about qualifying for the Champions League semi-finals is when something’s really wrong. Maybe then it would be the right time to quit.

“I never take something like this for granted, I’m really really happy.”

When Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino volleyed home his second of the evening in front of the Kop to put Liverpool 6-2 up on aggregate, most inside Anfield – and probably beyond – could not foresee Benfica’s comeback.

The Portuguese side – struggling in their own league this season – could have snatched it at the death too, denied yet again by the offside flag with almost the last kick of the game.

Klopp praised Nelson Verissimo’s side and admitted he was no different to anybody else in terms of the thinking with a two-goal lead on the night.

He said: “We are human beings, we think ‘Okay, job done!’ and Benfica were still on fire, I respect that a lot. They scored really good goals, but it should not be that easy against us.

“Everyone, me included, thought [at 3-1]that’s it. Benfica thought let’s give it a try and I couldn’t respect that more.

“They deserved the three goals, that’s just how it is. Of course, we could have scored more, that’s clear. I know about challenges in football games which you face constantly and tonight it was after 3-1.”

Albeit with an off-colour performance, now that Klopp’s side have secured their place in the last four of the Champions League, their hunt for an unprecedented quadruple is still very much alive and kicking.

The train now rolls onto its next destination for the red half of Merseyside, stopping off at Wembley this Saturday for an FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City. The Citizens also qualified for the semis of the Champions League after beating Spanish side Atletico Madrid.

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