Belfast Telegraph

Pool now facing huge challenge but we'll never give up: Van Dijk


Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk

By Carl Markham

Virgil van Dijk insists Liverpool's players still believe they can reach another Champions League final despite their 3-0 semi-final first-leg defeat in Barcelona.

Lionel Messi struck twice in the last 15 minutes to turn a one-goal deficit into an almost insurmountable task for the Reds at Anfield next week.

Jurgen Klopp's side were denied an important away goal with Roberto Firmino's shot cleared off the line and Mohamed Salah's follow-up smashing against a post, but Van Dijk said the general performance gave them hope of a miraculous comeback.

"I'm disappointed, but the result does not really reflect how well we played and what the game was like," said the Holland captain. "We had some big chances - should have scored one and they could have scored a fourth - but it is 3-0 and we have a big job at Anfield.

"But we have shown throughout the season that we never give up. We need everyone to be together and let's see how it goes.

"The only thing is that we can only keep believing and keep working hard for each other and stay positive and there is no reason to panic. We believe. We will keep believing."

The scoreline was harsh on Klopp's side as, for a 20-minute spell in the second half, they had their hosts under pressure to the extent home manager Ernesto Valverde changed formation and brought on an extra defender.

But not being able to take their chances ultimately cost Liverpool.

"After the break we kept pressing and kept playing well and we were unlucky we did not score," added Van Dijk, whose side were beaten finalists last year. "We know how tough it can be with the quality they have but we showed at times we could create good chances against them and make it difficult."

Attention now turns to tomorrow's trip to Newcastle, which Liverpool have to win to maintain the pressure on Premier League leaders Manchester City, who face Leicester on Monday.

"Now the focus is on Newcastle, which is a big job, and after that we try everything to go through," said Van Dijk. "It is a different challenge. It will be tough and not easy to get a result but we will try everything.

"We have to stay confident. This (result) should not put us down."

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