Klopp backs wasteful Reds

Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino ruing a missed chance against Spartak Moscow in the Champions League on Tuesday. The English Premier League side had 64 per cent of the ball in Moscow and took 16 shots - six were on target - but netted just once. Th
Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino ruing a missed chance against Spartak Moscow in the Champions League on Tuesday. The English Premier League side had 64 per cent of the ball in Moscow and took 16 shots - six were on target - but netted just once. The hosts scored with one of their two shots on target. The Reds remain without an away victory in this competition since 2009.PHOTO: REUTERS
Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino ruing a missed chance against Spartak Moscow in the Champions League on Tuesday. The English Premier League side had 64 per cent of the ball in Moscow and took 16 shots - six were on target - but netted just once. Th
JURGEN KLOPP, Liverpool manager,

Liverpool fail to net a second goal in Moscow draw despite 'Fab Four' on show for first time

MOSCOW • Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes his team remain on track to qualify for the knockout phase of the Champions League despite drawing both their opening games.

After a 2-2 draw with Sevilla in their Group E opener, Liverpool drew 1-1 away with Spartak Moscow on Tuesday, with Fernando's free kick for the hosts cancelled out by a brilliantly constructed Philippe Coutinho equaliser.

The English Premier League football club now trail leaders Sevilla by two points, but, with four games still to come, Klopp is relaxed about his team's situation.

"Of course I saw enough (to suggest Liverpool can qualify)," the German said at Moscow's Otkrytiye Arena. "We know more about the two teams. We know Moscow had a lot of injury problems. For sure Quincy Promes will be back for the next game and a few other really good players, which will change their game.

"In football you can never be sure. Yes, we are strong enough to go through, but we have to do it... Stay cool, carry on, work hard and you will succeed at the end."

Fernando put Spartak ahead with a 25-yard free kick in the 23rd minute, but their lead lasted just eight minutes as Coutinho exchanged passes with Sadio Mane before coolly netting an equaliser.

Despite dominating the second half, Liverpool could not find a winner, with substitute Daniel Sturridge and Mohamed Salah both wasting excellent late chances.

TRY AND TRY AGAIN

That's how football is. The only way you can change is to do it again, do it again, do it again, and that's what we'll do.

JURGEN KLOPP, Liverpool manager, on how to fix his side's wastefulness in front of goal.

Klopp aligned Coutinho, Mane, Salah and Roberto Firmino for the first time, but he said his "Fab Four" would need time to develop an understanding.

"It's good when you have all these players around, but it's not lining up the players and hoping something will happen - they all need rhythm and need to be in good shape," he said.

"It was a very intense game. In a lot of moments we performed as good as possible, in a lot of moments not. We have to keep on working."

Asked why Liverpool had been unable to procure a second goal, he replied: "It's a big question. Because of a little bit being unlucky, good saves from both goalkeepers and wrong decisions in the decisive moment. That's how football is. The only way you can change is to do it again, do it again, do it again, and that's what we'll do."

Klopp's "both goalkeepers" remark reflected the fact that Spartak goalkeeper Artyom Rebrov suffered suspected knee ligament damage and was taken off on a mechanised medical cart midway through the second half, with Aleksandr Selikhov taking his place.

Several Spartak players went down with cramp during the second half, but coach Massimo Carrera said that was more a reflection on the effort they had put in than their physical condition.

"Those who haven't played football don't understand it," said the Italian.

"Against such skilful players as what Liverpool have, we had to run a lot. That's why we got some cramps."

He previously worked under Antonio Conte at Juventus and in an intriguing comment he said that a pre-match conversation with the Chelsea manager had formed his side's approach against Liverpool.

"We spoke only a couple of minutes and it was mostly things I have already observed," said Carrera. "But those pieces (of information) helped me to get this draw against Liverpool."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2017, with the headline 'Klopp backs wasteful Reds'. Print Edition | Subscribe