Jurgen Klopp has criticised Atletico Madrid for not playing ‘proper football’ as Liverpool crashed out of the Champions League with a 3-2 defeat after extra-time at Anfield.
Liverpool headed into the return fixture seeking another famous European comeback after a 1-0 defeat in Madrid three weeks ago, though the defence of their crown was ended in disastrous circumstances in the last 16 following a dramatic second leg on Merseyside.
The holders seemed to be heading towards the quarter-finals as Roberto Firmino put the club ahead early in extra-time, the Brazilian doubling Liverpool’s lead on the night after Georginio Wijnaldum’s header had forced an additional 30 minutes.
The momentum of the tie would swing back in Atletico’s favour just three minutes later, however, Marcos Llorente firing home to put the visitors ahead on away goals following a dreadful clearance from goalkeeper Adrian.
Liverpool would pour forward as they looked to wrestle back the ascendency, only to twice be hit on the counter-attack by Diego Simeone’s side who sealed their progress to the last eight courtesy of Llorente’s second and a goal from Alvaro Morata.
Klopp struggled to hide his disappointment post-match as the Reds crashed out following a 4-2 aggregate defeat, before aiming a dig at the defensive style of their Spanish opponents over the two legs.
2006 – Liverpool have fallen at the last 16 stage of the Champions League for the first time since 2006 (v Benfica), also as the reigning champions after lifting the trophy in 2005 at this season’s final destination – Istanbul. Eliminated. pic.twitter.com/tG4q73MpHB
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 11, 2020
“For the score to go 2-1 was not cool, it was a blow but it’s not a big problem. The second goal was a bigger problem,” Klopp told BT Sport.
“After the second goal, the legs were a bit tired. Everything that looked really natural in the first 90 minutes became a bit stiff. The crosses did not have the same quality We wanted the first time crosses like for the first goal, which was brilliant and the boys forget to do that.
“I’m completely happy with the performance. What can I say? It’s so difficult to play against a side like that.
“I don’t understand with this quality they have to be honest why they play this type of football. It’s right, the winner is always.
“When I see players like Koke, Saul, Llorente, they could play proper football and not stand in their own half and play counter-attacking football.
“They beat us, that’s how it is and we accept that of course. Congratulations to them. It doesn’t feel right tonight. I realise I’m a really, really bad loser.
“Especially when the boys put such an effort in a game. Not just two players but with two banks of four and two strikers in front of them. They didn’t even have counter-attacks.
“They were just brilliant. We have to accept that we concede three goals but the game can decide this.
"It's difficult to explain these goals, to be honest. The boys fought hard."
"We will come again, and go again. But for now, we are out."
A disappointed Jurgen Klopp is keen to not get too despondent despite the Reds losing hold of their European crown…
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 11, 2020
“We know in the last two years we had some lucky moments in the Champions League, you have to, to reach two finals, but today it was everything was against us in the decisive moments.”
Klopp added that he was struggling to find the ‘right words’ following a disappointing defeat, though praised his side’s dominant performance during the ninety minutes as they lay siege to the Atletico goal.
“I’m searching for the right words. Our main mistake was to not score the second goal five minutes earlier. We scored it in extra time and not in the 90 minutes.
“The 90 minutes were exceptional, the boys played a wonderful game. You saw all the goals we conceded you should not concede them. We lose in a specific way, it’s always different but it’s difficult to explain those goals to be honest.
“We will come again and go again but now we are out.”