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Klopp draws comfort in avoiding injuries on icy pitch

FC Sion 0-0 Liverpool

By Carl Markham

Published 11/12/2015

Grounds for concern: Liverpool aces Emre Can and Firmino take on FC Sion but boss Jurgen Klopp had concerns over the pitch
Grounds for concern: Liverpool aces Emre Can and Firmino take on FC Sion but boss Jurgen Klopp had concerns over the pitch

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was grateful to leave Sion unscathed after a difficult night on a tricky pitch in Switzerland.

A dismal goalless draw clinched top spot on a semi-frozen pitch in a group they had already qualified from and made it four draws and two wins in Europe this season.

While satisfied at ensuring, in theory, a more favourable draw for the knockout stages, Klopp was happier to be able to take his side home without the complication of further injuries.

"It was difficult; the ground was very difficult to play on and for both teams the first thing to do was show you were prepared for a game like this and that is what my team did," he said.

"It was not our best football and although it is an outdoor sport, frozen ground is for other sports.

"Of course in each tournament at this level there should be heating for the ground - that is not good (there was none) - but now we have played here and if we come here again it will maybe be April and I hope it will not be that cold.

"But you have to ignore it, try to take it and use it and the only thing that helps in a situation like this is concentration.

"I am really satisfied, no-one is injured and they were very focused and concentrated on the game."

When Klopp took over in mid-October the club had two points from their opening two matches and looked in danger of failing to get out of the group but they did that with a match to spare and now await their fate in Monday's draw.

"We wanted to be first after this game and that is what we did," the German said.

"We will see how important it (first place) is - there are a lot of good teams in second place and also teams from the Champions League.

"Everyone will have to change their mind about this tournament now as everyone will see it is something like a small Champions League."

Sion coach Didier Tholot was happy to have also progressed to the knockout stage and made no excuses for the bore draw.

"We deserve this result. We know Liverpool are very offensive and had a couple of dangerous situations but we did not have to rely on our goalkeeper," he said.

"What we did was a real victory and we are very proud."

Klopp's inclusion of 21-year-old left-back Brad Smith, making his first start, paid off.

Smith's energy and enthusiasm to get forward meant his flank was Liverpool's most profitable in the first-half but, for all the youngster's endeavour, what could just about be described as their only chance saw Divock Origi fire a left-to-right shot wide of the far post.

The arrival of playmaker Philippe Coutinho for James Milner on the hour for his first appearance in four matches after a hamstring injury offered some hope of an increased goal threat, but the fingertips of Andris Vanins prevented Origi rounding the Sion goalkeeper from Emre Can's pass.

Sion gave it more of a go in the final 10 minutes but they were more than happy with the draw to take them through to the knockout stages.

FC SION: Vanins, Zverotic, Lacroix, Ziegler, Pa Modou, Salatic, Rüfli (Adao 94), Kouassi, Fernandes, Alves Garcia, Assifuah (Mujangi Bia 73).

Subs not used: Akolo, Fickentscher, Sierro, Vanczak, Follonier.

LIVERPOOL: Mignolet, Clyne, Touré, Lovren, Smith, Henderson (Rossiter 77), Can, Milner (Coutinho 61), Lallana, Origi, Firmino (Brannagan 90) Subs not used: Benteke, Bogdan, Skrtel, Randall.

Man of the match: Brad Smith

Match rating: 5/10 Ref: Michael Koukoulakis

Belfast Telegraph

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