LONDON • There are no points in the Champions League for aesthetically pleasing or entertaining football, but Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists that something did not feel right about his team's defeat by defence-minded Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.
The holders were hit by three goals in extra time, losing 3-2 in the second leg of their last-16 tie at Anfield to go out 4-2 on aggregate.
Klopp, who guided his team to the final in the past two seasons, could not resist some barbed comments about his counterpart Diego Simeone's tactics.
"I don't understand with the quality they have, the football they play. They could play proper football but they stand deep and have counter-attacks," he said.
"We accept it of course but it doesn't feel right tonight. I realise I am a really bad loser, especially when the boys put such an effort in against world-class players on the other side who defend with two rows of four."
It was hardly a surprise, though, that the Spanish side adopted such an approach - a tight defence and compact midfield has been the hallmark of Atletico during Simeone's eight years in charge.
He cannot call on the world-class playmakers and strikers available to La Liga rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid and compensates with organisation, work rate and an ability to work out the best way to punish opponents.
Said the Argentinian when confronted with Klopp's criticism: "We came here to win, I respect his identity and with the quality we have, we try to exploit deficiencies in the opposition, that's what we do."
Liverpool looked to have ended Atletico's dogged resistance when Roberto Firmino put them ahead in the tie after Georginio Wijnaldum's first-half header forced the second leg into an extra 30 minutes.
However, the Reds were made to rue a host of missed chances to kill the game off in 90 minutes when an error from Adrian, who was deputising for the injured Alisson, opened the floodgates. Marcos Llorente struck twice before fellow substitute Alvaro Morata completed Atletico's triumph.
But Klopp refused to blame the goalkeeper for his poor clearance, saying: "We will not blame him for a second. It would be really nice if you stay respectful...
34 Shots Liverpool took, of which only 11 were on target. Atletico had 10 shots with six on target.
1 Liverpool have failed to progress from a two-legged tie in European competition for the first time under Jurgen Klopp, having been successful in the previous 10.
"This goal didn't help but that's how it is. If you lose a game you always lose for different reasons. Today it was like everything was against us in the decisive moments."
Before the match, Klopp was walking out from the tunnel when he was caught on camera swearing at Liverpool fans who tried to touch him amid the coronavirus crisis.
Optus Sport, which posted the video, claimed he shouted: "Put your hands away you f*****g idiots!"
Handshakes are banned by many leagues - including the Premier League - across Europe in a bid to prevent the virus from spreading.
The Liverpool boss also refused to shake Simeone's hand before the clash and opted for an elbow bump instead.
The German had spoken passionately about the outbreak before the game, saying that "there are things more important than football".
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN