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Woeful Manchester United Klopp it to put further pressure on Louis Van Gaal

By Graham Luney

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has set his sights on former club Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League after he tactically out-thought Manchester United and their beleaguered boss Louis van Gaal.

The Anfield Reds secured their place as England's sole representative in the last eight after holding Manchester United 1-1 at Old Trafford.

Klopp's men were already in command of the last-16 tie following a 2-0 win in the first leg on Merseyside.

United gave their home fans hope of an unlikely recovery through a penalty from Anthony Martial only for Philippe Coutinho to net a superb equaliser which proved enough to see the Reds through.

Klopp, who left Dortmund in July 2015, said: "I have contacts with my Dortmund friends, they all would like to play against us - but in Basel (in the final).

"But you saw all the results, there are only good teams left in the race. It's cool. Last eight? Perfect."

Another desperate performance intensifies the pressure on Van Gaal whose next Premier League test is a derby clash away to Manchester City on Sunday. "It's very disappointing because we created enough chances," said the Dutchman.

"We know when we are attacking in this way that Liverpool also have counter chances.

"The way we conceded that goal, in the last seconds of the first half - you could have built up the second half so beautifully but at half-time we were disappointed. In the second half we also had chances, Fellaini with his head and his foot - but you have to score three goals and that's not too easy."

Van Gaal continued: “I am not angry, I am not frustrated. I was very proud of my players.

“They gave everything and I was very pleased the fans recognised that. They applauded after the match despite us being knocked out — that was remarkable.

“We have created a lot of chances; we scored a penalty, (there were chances for) Lingard, Mata, Fellaini, Martial, and then we conceded a goal in the last seconds of the first-half.

“That is what we did not do in Liverpool, they scored an away goal and that makes a difference to how they feel in the dressing room at half-time.

“In the second-half we tried to raise ourselves out of the disappointment but you know, the fans know, everyone knows we have to score three goals and that was more difficult.

“There is always pressure. Expectations are very high so pressure for these players is always very high. We can cope with that but we were not lucky.

“I hope the City game is the catalyst. We have to beat City and we have a chance to still qualify (for next season’s Champions League).”

United midfielder Marouane Fellaini, meanwhile, came under fire from former Premier League referee Howard Webb, who labelled the Belgian “a thug” after he was caught up in another elbowing storm.

Fellaini swung an arm at Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren — just seven days after a similar incident involving Emre Can in the first leg went unpunished — and Webb, who refereed the 2010 World Cup final and later served as the technical director of Professional Game Match Officials Limited, has seen enough.

Summarising the officiating of the game, Webb said: “It’s one thing imposing yourself on the game, but another thing being a thug on the pitch. (Fellaini) can’t play without throwing his elbows around. I think he should have been suspended for (the incident in the first leg) but Uefa never looked at it.”

Over footage of incidents from the second leg, he continued: “This ongoing battle with Can continues, he throws an arm — reckless in my opinion, not violent, worth a yellow card.

“But this one’s a red card. Dejan Lovren is holding him — is that an excuse to throw an arm? No, of course not.

“He clenches his fist, he puts force into the elbow, the point of the elbow goes into the back of the head, and he should have been sent off. Week in, week out, he can’t get through a game without violently throwing his arm into people’s faces.”

Belfast Telegraph


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