Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp denied first win at Anfield as Southampton salvage draw

Liverpool 1-1 Southampton

By Simon Hughes

When Christian Benteke soared like John Toshack to score what appeared to be the match-winning goal yesterday, Jurgen Klopp reacted by charging out of his technical area, and punching the night air before pumping a fist into his chest.

By the time he had turned to the Main Stand, releasing a roar that came from his guts, assistant Peter Krawietz had joined him having sprung from his position in the dugout. Suddenly, Krawietz was on the pitch.

Nine minutes later, Klopp folded his arms and offered a wry smile when Southampton equalised. This is a Liverpool manager who will laugh in the face of adversity. Afterwards, he insisted a sickness does not exist at Anfield, a place he nevertheless concedes does not deal particularly well with setbacks because of the weight of history. He recognised that Liverpool have not won a league since 1990.

"I understand this pressure at the moment because the guys feel it," he said. "We conceded one goal and it felt like the end of the world. There was still 10 minutes left to play. This has to change."

Klopp said that he saw many "fine" things from his side.

He described two teams fighting for a result, with Liverpool not being quite as fresh because of European excursions, though he was not using it as an excuse for the outcome.

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"We had everything you need in a close game to win," he insisted before admitting it frustrated him that Liverpool did not deal well with James Ward-Prowse's free-kick, which enabled Saido Mane to bundle the ball over the line.

Mane was later sent off in injury time for lunging at Alberto Moreno. By then, though, his most significant damage had been served.

"We all know it takes time and I see development," Klopp added. "The problem is the other teams don't wait for us. They want to beat us."

For Klopp, there is a positive: he is unbeaten in three matches as Liverpool's manager.

Yet, negatively: he is yet to experience a victory. And that was how this game went for him; the good shadowed closely by bad: Benteke's header was the best you are likely to witness this season.

And then the time-held traits of old crept into a defence, which had three opportunities to clear before the moment arrived where two points were dropped.

Briefly, Anfield was the emotional place that Klopp wants it to be. Previously, the loudest noise had been at half time when Jason McAteer, the 44-year-old former Liverpool player, hit the crossbar twice in a competition that also involved John Aldridge and two other supporters.

Benteke had spent the interval at the other end of the pitch going through a warm-up with fitness coach Ryland Morgans. His introduction was necessary because the lack of attacking focal point in Liverpool's team was so obvious.

Divock Origi is only playing because of injuries but he is clearly not yet ready to take on the responsibility of such an important role, especially when he is fed on limited support from a midfield like Liverpool's.

Klopp's team is currently structured not too differently to an old W-M formation with Emre Can and James Milner operating as wing-halves.

It has left the person playing as a centre forward isolated, yet Origi's inability to hold possession contributes towards the system breaking down.

Perhaps Can doesn't get forward too much because he knows his lung capacity will not allow him to get back.

Perhaps Milner is not quite the all-round midfielder he might consider himself.

Or perhaps, conversely, the caution was a deliberate ploy by Klopp as he appreciated how dangerous Southampton could be on the break having seen the outcome when Chelsea underestimated them at Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool's deep midfield three negated the threat of Southampton's attacking midfield three. Should it really be a surprise that the first half was like board game based around strategy?

Ronald Koeman reasoned that a point for Southampton was deserved but nothing more. "We can play better football than we did today," he conceded.

For Klopp, Koeman's honesty reflected this was a missed opportunity.

LIVERPOOL: Mignolet, Clyne, Skrtel, Sakho, Moreno, Milner, Lucas, Can, Lallana (Firmino 67), Coutinho (Ibe 83), Origi (Benteke 45)

Subs not used: K Toure, Allen, Bogdan, Randall

Goal: Benteke 77

SOUTHAMPTON: Stekelenburg, Soares, Fonte, van Dijk, Bertrand, Clasie (Juanmi 76), Wanyama, Davis (Ramírez 80), Mane,Tadic (Ward-Prowse 64), Pellè

Subs not used: Davis, Yoshida, Romeu, Caulker

Goal: Mané 86

Man of the match: Christian Benteke

Match rating: 7/10

Referee: Andre Marriner (Birmingham)

Attendance: 44,171

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