Belfast Telegraph

'Outstandingly good' Liverpool will try and win in Roma: Klopp

 

By Adam McKendry

Mo Salah tormented his old club Roma as Liverpool sparkled in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final, winning 5-2 at Anfield.

Egypt star Salah, who has just been named PFA Player of the Year, was at his glorious best, scoring twice and setting up two more as the Reds took full control of the tie.

Roberto Firmino added a brace and Sadio Mane also found the back of the net. However, Liverpool left the door slightly ajar by conceding two late goals to Edin Dzeko and a penalty from Diego Perotti for Roma to take back to the Stadio Olimpico.

It means Jurgen Klopp's side take a three-goal lead to the Italian capital next week, aware that Eusebio di Francesco's men overcame the same deficit against Barcelona in the previous round.

The German boss was left both delighted and frustrated with his players, but ultimately conceded that 5-2 was still a brilliant outcome.

"It was a perfect performance for pretty much 80 minutes or so, then we made one defensive mistake and Dzeko made the most of the situation," Klopp lamented.

"That's the rules of the competition, each goal you score helps massively.

"I think we agree the penalty wasn't even a penalty, it's not even handball, but that's the situation and now it's 5-2.

"I would be much more happy if we had won 5-0 or 5-1 but 5-2 is still a fantastic result."

Klopp added: "I could not even have imagined (winning 5-2) was possible, so the boys still did outstandingly good and we go there and try to win again."

The Liverpool boss was naturally delighted with how his side played, in particular how his front three once again gelled perfectly.

After Mane passed up two chances to give the hosts the lead, Salah cracked home a perfectly placed curler from the edge of the box before adding a delicately lofted second over the onrushing Alisson.

The Egyptian then laid the ball on a plate for Mane to finally get the goal he deserved before doing the same for Firmino, who wrapped up the Reds' scoring with their fifth - a header from a corner.

"We had all these runs behind, it changed the game completely and they couldn't cope with that," Klopp beamed.

"We scored these goals and could have scored more. That is all positive, at this moment it doesn't feel all positive because they scored these two goals but tomorrow I will see the really good part of the game."

However, there was of course the final 10 minutes where Liverpool took their feet off the gas and allowed Roma back into it.

Edin Dzeko, the Italians' dangerman, stole in to grab a precious away goal before Diego Perotti calmly stroked home a penalty to make it two.

As well as that, Liverpool had to deal with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain being stretchered off injured, with the midfielder now looking to be in a race against time to be fit for England's World Cup bid.

"Oxlade-Chamberlain is probably a really bad injury," Klopp reluctantly admitted.

"That is bad news for us. The squad doesn't get bigger at the moment so we need to be creative in the next few games.

Meanwhile, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson couldn't hide his frustration at his side conceding those two late goals to let Roma back into the tie.

"It felt as though we were in full control but we basically gave them two goals, you can't do that in the Champions League," he moaned.

"At the same time we played well, we will go there with a three-goal advantage.

"Overall we have got to stay positive. We knew it would not be easy tonight, we know it will not be easy there.

"It will be a challenge but one we will look forward to and one where we will hopefully finish them off.

"We go there with a three-goal advantage but it will be hard given what they did against Barcelona in the last round.

"I felt we were still in control but didn't play football as much in the last 20 minutes, but we still had chances to score.

"We gave them the (Edin) Dzeko goal and that brought a few nerves, I don't really know why.

"I thought the penalty was harsh, I thought his arms were by his side."

Roma boss Eusebio di Francesco, on the other hand, did his best to try and stay optimistic after seeing his side fight back.

"We started well, but then we lost our heads," he admitted.

"That reaction late on was very welcome, though, and we've got to believe in the comeback."

Belfast Telegraph

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