Forget first leg: Van Dijk

Sergio Aguero, who has scored four Champions League goals this term, may be called upon to lead the Manchester City attack against Liverpool. City will look to overturn their three-goal deficit from the first leg to reach the semi-finals.
Sergio Aguero, who has scored four Champions League goals this term, may be called upon to lead the Manchester City attack against Liverpool. City will look to overturn their three-goal deficit from the first leg to reach the semi-finals.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Defender says Reds must approach q-final return leg at Man City with winning mindset

LONDON • Virgil van Dijk insisted Liverpool will not simply defend their 3-0 lead against Manchester City and will be looking to win today's Champions League quarter-final second leg.

The Reds defender said it would be a mistake to keep the first-leg result in their heads for the clash at the Etihad Stadium.

"It is pretty clear that defending a 3-0 lead is going to be a bit of a strange situation," the Dutchman told a press conference yesterday.

"We need to come here with the mindset it is still 0-0 and we want to win the game and we know we are capable of scoring goals.

"We know also as a team we can defend well, pretty compact, we saw it in the second half at Anfield but the main thing is we definitely need to keep the mindset of winning the game instead of defending a lead."

If Liverpool get a goal once, City would have to score five to progress due to the away goals rule.

Mohamed Salah put Liverpool ahead in the tie with his 38th goal of the season last week. But the Egyptian limped off injured early in the second half, and Jurgen Klopp remained coy over the forward's fitness after he missed Saturday's 0-0 draw at Everton.

"(I'm) not sure 100 per cent," said the Liverpool manager.

City conceded three second-half goals on Saturday as they gave up a two-goal lead at home to Manchester United in the Premier League but Klopp said that even in that 2-3 defeat, Pep Guardiola's side had shown their quality.

"If you saw the first half against United, in a normal game, against one of the best teams in the world, they could have scored six goals and maybe should have four at least," the German said.

"We have to be at our best again."

City's derby defeat also marked the first time they lost a Premier League game they were winning by a two-goal margin for the first time since October 2008.

Guardiola admitted his side's inability to see out the United game could weigh on players' minds today.

"It's difficult - difficult for our mood not winning and, yeah, that can happen," said the City manager. "But maybe we will improve for the future regarding this - and realise that sometimes it is not enough what you've done (and need to do more) to win...

"When you play against Liverpool or in Europe when you have that momentum you have to close the door. And we didn't close it against United."

The Spaniard also took responsibility for his teams' failure to maintain focus. There were just 97 seconds between Paul Pogba's first and second goals on Saturday while Liverpool scored three in 19 minutes at Anfield.

"I've dropped a lot of Champions League games in the space of 10 or 15 minutes," he said, offering an example of when he was Bayern Munich manager for a Champions League semi-final first leg in May 2015. "We were playing Barcelona and after 77 minutes it was 0-0, then after 90 minutes - 3-0. This has happened many times - maybe it's my fault."

What Guardiola is certain of is the need for "the perfect game" from his players to have any chance of making the semi-finals, with Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero set to return to the starting XI.

"Create chances, be clinical, concede few chances, all the conditions have to be perfect," he added.

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2018, with the headline 'Forget first leg: Van Dijk'. Print Edition | Subscribe