Klopp enthused by Jota after keeping Blades at bay

Liverpool striker Diogo Jota's header in the 64th minute gave the champions a 2-1 home victory over Sheffield United. They are now second in the league table, behind only Merseyside rivals Everton.
Liverpool striker Diogo Jota's header in the 64th minute gave the champions a 2-1 home victory over Sheffield United. They are now second in the league table, behind only Merseyside rivals Everton.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Liverpool were far from their best as they laboured to a 2-1 victory over Sheffield United in the Premier League on Saturday but Jurgen Klopp praised his side's resilience as they again showed a knack for overcoming adversity at Anfield.

Diogo Jota's second-half header sealed the points after Roberto Firmino had cancelled out Sander Berge's penalty as Liverpool extended their unbeaten league run at home to 62 matches.

Liverpool are undefeated in their last 13 home league games in which they have conceded the first goal, winning the last nine.

They had to do it this time without injured defensive talisman Virgil van Dijk - his first missed game in the English top flight since January 2018 - and at the end of a demanding week in which they drew 2-2 at Everton and grounded out a 1-0 win in Amsterdam over Ajax in the Champions League.

"A tough week obviously - a lot of games, a lot of minutes, tough opponents, hard-fighting opponents," Klopp said.

"(We) won the two matches after the Merseyside derby, so really pleased with that, obviously.

"We didn't score (the third goal) so the game stayed open and they had their moments, but we defended well with a big heart. And so I liked it."

Jota has scored in his first two home league games since joining from Wolves during the transfer window. Incredibly, since netting against Arsenal on Sept 28, the Portugal forward has played in eight games for club and country, and Klopp believes the £41 million (S$72.6 million) man will get better once he settles.

The German said: "He is still adapting. In the moment, a lot of things we do are not natural to him but that's only because Wolves play different - but a lot of things he did for Wolves are exactly what we want him to do.

"That he is that close already is just a sign of how good a player he is. If he stays fit, he's 23 and the future is bright. We will need his quality and I am really happy that he's settled nicely so far."

While Liverpool moved to second behind Everton, United have managed only one point from six games and remain one place above basement club Fulham. Yet they pushed the champions all the way and manager Chris Wilder saw many positives.

"There are a lot of disappointed people in the changing room," he said. "It was a tight game and it wasn't one-way traffic.

"A lot of good things tonight but it feels a bit Groundhog Day but we will get better and learn a lot from today's game."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2020, with the headline 'Klopp enthused by Jota after keeping Blades at bay'. Print Edition | Subscribe