Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits the club face a ‘tough’ task to secure qualification to the Champions League knock-out stages after being held to a 1-1 draw by Napoli at Anfield.
The European champions missed the opportunity to secure their progression after their meeting with the Italian side ended in a stalemate, Dries Mertens firing the visitors ahead on Merseyside before Dejan Lovren’s second-half header earned Liverpool a point.
A disappointing night was further compounded after an injury to midfielder Fabinho, the result leaving Liverpool top of a competitive Group E, though the club must avoid defeat in their final group fixture away to Red Bull Salzburg to be sure of progress to the last-16.
Salzburg maintained their hopes of progression with an impressive 4-1 win at bottom placed Genk, and having given Liverpool a scare in their first meeting at Anfield, Klopp admits his side face a difficult task to seal qualification in two weeks time.
It’s going to MD6 for Liverpool…
They’ll almost certainly need to avoid defeat in Salzburg in order to qualify for the Champions League last 16.
FT: Liverpool 1-1 Napoli pic.twitter.com/GGta1egTp2
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) November 27, 2019
Speaking in his post-match interview with BT Sport, Klopp said: “In [the Napoli] dressing room they feel like they are already through and maybe they are. Everybody here thinks, ‘Oh my god, it will be tough’ and it will be tough, that much is clear.
“The way Napoli set up, it didn’t help that they scored, they could follow their plan all the time, we had to increase pressure all the time. We were not brilliant but we put pressure on them. I was not happy with the last 15 minutes of the first half. Second half it was just intense and of course it’s not easy, they really defended the goal they had.
“We didn’t have the biggest chances, maybe one or two. For tonight it might not be enough but it’s still our situation. When we go to Salzburg, if we had done it tonight we would try to win there, so it’s still our goal.
“They closed the centre so we needed to come from the wing. The plan is one thing but the boys have to execute it, and they crossed too early. We take that, it was always a hard one.
“The biggest things is the Fabinho injury, that’s massive. It’s early and we all hope it’s not too serious but it’s pretty painful and in an area you don’t want to have pain, around the ankle.”