March 6, 2021
Sports

Klopp adopts brave face as late slip-ups mar magical night

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp assumed a brave face after his side suffered a late wobble having swatted a shellshocked Roma aside for the vast majority of their Champions League semi-final first-leg tussle.

The Reds still hold a commanding advantage prior to the second leg on 2 May after surging into a five-goal lead courtesy of double strikes from ex-Roma forward Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, while Sadio Mane also netted.

But in a season when remarkable comebacks have been a feature of the competition, not least Romas 3-0 win over Barcelona in the quarter-final to rescue a seemingly hopeless situation, an Edin Dzeko goal and Diego Perotti penalty served to tarnish their evening.

“It was a long-term perfect performance for pretty much 80 minutes,” said Klopp, who confirmed that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – stretchered off in the first half ­– had suffered a “really bad injury”.

“We made defensively one mistake and the penalty is not a penalty but that is the situation and now it is 5-2. Of course, we would have been more happy with 5-0 or 5-1 but 5-2 is a fantastic result.

“At this moment it doesnt feel all positive because they scored these goals but tomorrow I will see the really good part of the game. It is absolutely better than I thought before the game.”

Before the chaos ensued, it was Liverpool breathing the first major sigh of relief as a 25-yard Aleksandar Kolarov rasper appeared to deceive Reds goalkeeper Loris Karius, who wafted the ball onto the crossbar.

Liverpool were already hinting at running riot and a lead was forthcoming, inevitably through Salah. The 25-year-old curled a sumptuous 35th-minute effort beyond Roma stopper Allison Becker and into the top corner of his goal after being found by Firmino.

An unmarked Dejan Lovren thumped a header against the woodwork before Liverpool again pierced Romas porous defence and Firmino released Salah to clip over the advancing Allison.

Romas calamitous defending continued 11 minutes into the second period as a punt up the line freed Salah, who had acres of space to advance and square for Mane to tap home.

The Reds continued to exploit the space afforded by a confused-looking Roma midfield and backline, and Salah skipped around the helpless Juan Jesus and crossed for Firmino to net with ease.

Liverpools goal-spree continued on 68 minutes as a simple corner and lack of Roma marking allowed Firmino to plant a downward header beyond a sprawling Alisson.

But their magical night was soured inside the final 10 minutes as Dzeko fired past Karius after Lovren misjudged a forward ball, while Perotti nonchalantly converted a penalty as Milner was adjudged to have handled.

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