Klopp admits 'hard to accept' paying penalties

File photo of Jurgen Klopp. Klopp could not hide his frustration on Monday (Jan 2) as Liverpool spurned a chance to close the gap on Chelsea to three points at the top of the English Premier League.
File photo of Jurgen Klopp. Klopp could not hide his frustration on Monday (Jan 2) as Liverpool spurned a chance to close the gap on Chelsea to three points at the top of the English Premier League.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • Jurgen Klopp could not hide his frustration on Monday as Liverpool spurned a chance to close the gap on Chelsea to three points at the top of the English Premier League.

Despite twice taking the lead at the Stadium of Light, Klopp's second-placed side were held to a 2-2 draw after two penalties from Jermain Defoe as David Moyes' Sunderland collected a potentially precious point in their struggle to avoid relegation.

"In this moment it is hard for me to accept but I have to be professional," said Klopp, who fears Chelsea will extend their five-point advantage at Tottenham Hotspur tonight. "Maybe I do not look like the best loser in the world but today two penalties against us feels not good."

Not that a man who saw first the impressive Daniel Sturridge and then Sadio Mane put Liverpool in front contested the legitimacy of those spot-kicks. Instead Klopp's beef was with the decision to award Seb Larsson the free kick which prefaced the second penalty, after Defoe had tumbled easily in the face of Lucas Leiva's and Emre Can's combined challenge.

With Mane subsequently handling Larsson's free kick, the stage was set for Defoe's late equaliser.

"I have no idea when a side of mine last conceded two penalties," lamented Klopp, who had earlier seen Didier Ndong brought down by Ragnar Klavan but believed his own side could have had a penalty following Larsson's perceived tug on Nathaniel Clyne. "The first one of course you can give it, both players are there. The second was clear handball. Two right decisions.

"But we all know in a football game a lot of situations like this can happen and the referee doesn't spot them. Sometimes he can have a good view of it, sometimes not."

If his countenance was softened by the news the ankle injury which caused Sturridge to limp off in the second half does not appear too serious, Klopp was clearly irked by having to play two games in less than 48 hours as the festive fixture programme reached peak frenzy.

"Maybe we can play better football," said the German. "But not with a one-day break."

It seems unlikely he and Moyes shared any new year humour as Sunderland's manager was still miffed by Klopp dubbing Sunderland "the most defensive" team he had faced when Liverpool won 2-0 at Anfield in November.

"I'm feeling we weren't too defensive today," the Scot said. "We got at Liverpool, put them under pressure, pressed them. Maybe if I was a German manager you might praise that. If I'd been German you might praise me for doing something different."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2017, with the headline 'Klopp admits 'hard to accept' paying penalties'. Print Edition | Subscribe