Belfast Telegraph

Klopp gutted as Pool blow golden chance

 

By Adam McKendry

Liverpool agonisingly missed out on the chance to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League with a game to spare after a shocking second-half collapse in a 3-3 draw away to Sevilla.

A remarkable game of two halves saw the Reds three goals to the good at the break, only for the Spaniards to reply in kind in the second half to snatch a point.

"It was a very good first half and not a very good second half," Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said.

Man City and Tottenham both secured top spot in their groups with wins over Feyenoord and Borussia Dortmund respectively.

However, Liverpool will have to wait until the final round of matches to ensure their progression to the knockouts as long as they pick up at least a point at home to Spartak Moscow.

After the game, Klopp insisted their squandering of the three-goal lead was a "misjudgement" by his players and he has no concerns about their character.

Two goals from Roberto Firmino either side of a Sadio Mane strike put the Reds on the verge of qualification for the Champions League knockout stage with a game to spare before the first half had even ended.

However, after the break they collapsed, conceding two to Wissam Ben Yedder inside 15 minutes before Guido Pizarro delivered the final blow with a 93rd-minute equaliser.

"It was a fantastic first half for us, the second half we made a mistake, we didn't carry on playing football," said Klopp.

"We became passive, they scored the first, then it was obvious the atmosphere changed immediately. That gave them a big boost.

"When controlling the game it is not allowed to become passive in a game like this.

"They are human beings. It was misjudgement."

There was an element of history repeating itself as Liverpool led the 2016 Europa League final 1-0 at half-time against the same opposition only to lose 3-1 and six of the players who featured in Basel on that night played some part in Seville.

The character of Klopp's players has been called into question since then but the Reds boss does not believe it is an issue.

"We showed fantastic mentality already against Dortmund (staging a late comeback to win the Europa League quarter-final 4-3), we showed it in a lot of other games.

"Yes it was not perfect tonight but it's not a general problem. It just happened.

"Could we have done better? One hundred per cent. Do I think it's a mentality problem? One hundred per cent not.

"We opened the door for them and didn't close it, so they could score in the last minute. That's the story of the game."

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