LIVERPOOL • Chelsea may have been indebted to an unconventional cross for a point at Anfield on Saturday, but Antonio Conte claimed Liverpool were lucky to share the spoils with his Premier League champions.
The Chelsea manager thought his team dominated at Anfield, created the better chances and were unfortunate to concede Mohamed Salah's 10th league goal of the campaign in the 65th minute before Willian lobbed Reds goalkeeper Simon Mignolet from a tight angle to rescue a point in the 85th minute.
"I think we played in a really good way. We had a good tactical plan and it was difficult for Liverpool to make chances to score," said Conte, who made five changes to the team who beat Qarabag 4-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday to seal their place in the last 16.
"It was a tactical decision, especially in the first half, to be very solid and then to try to be dangerous in possession.
"The game changed in the second half. We dominated the game and created many chances to score.
"Liverpool were lucky to score and then to draw."
PARK THE BUS
It's a little bit more difficult when Chelsea played with eight defenders more or less.
JURGEN KLOPP, Liverpool manager, on Chelsea's negative football.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp hit back at Conte's tactics, claiming the visitors were just focused on defending to earn a point and summarised their approach as: "Deep defending and giving the ball to Eden Hazard".
"I'm happy about the performance, how we took the game. It's a little bit more difficult when Chelsea played with eight defenders more or less," said Klopp.
The German also claimed referee Michael Oliver refused to let him bring on Adam Lallana and change his team's shape to protect the lead before Chelsea's equaliser.
"I was angry because we wanted to change the system, but the ref didn't give us the opportunity," he said. "I don't know what he thought in this moment, he told me something about taking too long, I don't understand it.
"How can we take too long? We didn't want to time waste, we wanted to change the system and that's why I was angry."
He added in his post-match press conference: "In my mind, Ragnar Klavan would have been exactly in the position where Willian crossed the ball. Maybe we would have blocked the cross. So, it doesn't feel too well when we couldn't change the system."
GOOD TACTICAL PLAN
It was a tactical decision, especially in the first half, to be very solid and then to try to be dangerous in possession.
ANTONIO CONTE, Chelsea manager, on his game plan.
Liverpool remain fifth and will fall 14 points off the pace in the Premier League if Manchester City beat Huddersfield yesterday (this morning, Singapore time), but Klopp said he had been encouraged by his team's display.
"In our situation, if we would really think about Manchester City, we would be crazy," said Klopp, whose side had squandered a 3-0 lead to draw 3-3 with Sevilla in the Champions League on Tuesday.
"How can we get Manchester City? We have to win games, but if they go on winning all their games, we can do whatever we want.
"I'm happy about big parts of the performance. Everything was good until Willian crossed the ball.
"The world is in a strange, crazy place at the moment and there are much more important, crazy things that are happening. I can easily live with a point against Chelsea."
Willian insisted that his equaliser was no fluke, telling Chelsea TV: "For sure, it was a shot, no doubt.
"Some people asked, 'You wanted to cross or you wanted to shoot?'. I said, 'Shoot, of course. Too much quality'."
Klopp also played down what appeared a disagreement with forward Sadio Mane, who came on as a late substitute.
"It is not a big thing," said Klopp, insisting the matter was about positioning. "We could have done it in the dressing room. Everything was sorted immediately."
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE