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Liverpool weren't clever enough but I'll take point from an intense battle: Klopp


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Happy return: Virgil van Dijk was glad to be back out on the pitch

Happy return: Virgil van Dijk was glad to be back out on the pitch

PA

Happy return: Virgil van Dijk was glad to be back out on the pitch

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp admitted it wasn't pretty as his side inched closer to Premier League glory.

Everton came close to securing their first Merseyside derby victory in more than a decade, but had to settle for a point in the scoreless draw against champions-elect Liverpool at Goodison.

The league leaders, who now need five points to be sure of top spot, can still clinch their first title in 30 years against Crystal Palace at Anfield on Wednesday - but only if Manchester City fail to beat Burnley at the Etihad tonight.

"Both teams understand the idea of a derby," said the German. "Each team is fighting like crazy but there is not a lot of football. Physically it was really intense. I will take that.

"It was a real fight. Both teams showed they understand it is a derby. Intense, physical, all players were all in.

"We didn't have enough chances. Most of the time we were dominant but they had the biggest chance.

"Everton defended really well and we were not smart enough to use the space. That is normal when you start to play again.

"Football looks slightly different, but I take that."

Klopp added that James Milner suffered a hamstring injury and is unlikely to be available for Wednesday's match with Palace.

He added Joel Matip hurt his toe and that "hopefully it's nothing serious".

Liverpool have now failed to score in four consecutive away fixtures in all competitions for the first time since September 2006 under Rafael Benitez.

Everton stay 12th after a hard-earned point but they will be frustrated at how close they came to winning it when Tom Davies hit the post late on.

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk said: "It was very intense. Both sides created small opportunities, they had the big one against the post.

"Everyone is just happy to be back, we didn't lose and it is another point towards our goal.

"It was tough. No one knew what to expect, it was good to be back out there. It's a step closer. We will try and improve."

Dominic Calvert-Lewin felt the hosts were unfortunate not to net the victory.

"We had a few chances but it wasn't our day," he said.

"It was not as sharp as you would expect. The players are rusty. We should have backed ourselves more in the battle.

"It was a strange game. It was bizarre with a game of this magnitude. This place is usually bouncing and it was hard to get used to."

Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti was pleased with his side's showing in difficult circumstances.

"Honestly, we were really close to winning but it was a tough game, difficult game," he said. "We performed really well. We were focused, we sacrificed. We had opportunities to score.

"Liverpool played a good game, they had more possession but defensively we were good.

"Offensively we tried to build from the back. They pressed really high and it was difficult to find a solution from the back so we decided to play long ball."

Liverpool's Milner made his 535th Premier League appearance, the joint-fifth highest total in the competition's history.

And the average age of Everton's starting XI was 24 years, 356 days - their youngest starting line-up for a league match against Liverpool since February 1986 (24 years, 250 days), when they won 2-0 at Anfield.

This point means the celebratory champagne may be on ice a little longer but it is only a matter of time, even days, before Liverpool are back at the peak of the domestic game by clinching that long-awaited title.

Belfast Telegraph