Frustrated Klopp looks ahead to Napoli 'final'

Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar (left) celebrating with Kylian Mbappe after scoring in their 2-1 win over Liverpool. The Brazilian repeatedly went down at the slightest of contacts to break up the game's flow.
Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar (left) celebrating with Kylian Mbappe after scoring in their 2-1 win over Liverpool. The Brazilian repeatedly went down at the slightest of contacts to break up the game's flow.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PARIS • Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp remained positive despite seeing his side slip to a 2-1 defeat by Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, labelling next month's winner-takes-all clash with Napoli at Anfield "a proper final".

Group C leaders Napoli, who travel to Liverpool on Dec 11, are three points clear of the Premier League side, but a 1-0 win, or a victory by a two-goal or more margin, will see Klopp's men reach the last 16 of the Champions League for the second season running.

The German urged Liverpool fans to turn out in droves and backed the 12th man to "create a special night", saying: "Napoli are a very good side. Now we have to use Anfield one more time. We are calling Anfield right now, and we will see what happen."

Goals from Juan Bernat and Neymar set PSG on their way to a crucial victory on Wednesday that revives their own European campaign and they will reach the knockout stage with a win at Red Star Belgrade in their final match.

James Milner's penalty got the Reds back in the contest, but an equaliser eluded them in the second half and Klopp was particularly frustrated with what he thought was gamesmanship by the home side, particularly from pantomime villain Neymar.

The Brazilian, who was widely criticised for his play-acting antics at the World Cup in the summer, repeatedly went down at the slightest of contacts to break up the flow of the game.

Liverpool's Andy Robertson later admitted to Sky Sports that they should have handled PSG's time-wasting tactics in a better manner, saying: "When you play against PSG, you know it's something you're going to come up against, especially with him (Neymar).

"It's frustrating when he is falling like he is (but) it's all part and parcel of his game. We didn't quite control our aggression."

But Klopp chose to direct his ire at referee Szymon Marciniak for failing to put a stop to the French champions' "500,000 disruptions" in the second half, instead issuing six yellow cards to his side.

"(It was) a little hurdle we had to overcome and the referee still thinks he did everything right," he raged. "We are one of the fairest teams in England, winning the fair-play award two times, but tonight, we looked like butchers.

"It was clever of PSG, especially Neymar, but a lot of other players went down like there was something serious.

"The ref needs to be prepared for a game like this and he looked not prepared. We have to take the result but it still feels a bit rubbish. "

He also claimed that PSG midfielder Marco Verratti, who was suspended for the reverse fixture in September but was influential all evening, had been fortunate to escape a sending-off for a first-half studs-up challenge on Joe Gomez.

"It's a red card, yes. But it is only a story if I say it and then I look like a bad loser, but I don't care."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2018, with the headline 'Frustrated Klopp looks ahead to Napoli 'final''. Print Edition | Subscribe