Liverpool’s tie with Villarreal is not over, insists Klopp

Manager hails ‘world-class’ Mané as Reds hold two-goal lead after first leg

Jürgen Klopp said Liverpool must remain “completely alert” to the threat posed by Villarreal despite dominating Unai Emery’s team throughout the Champions League semi-final first leg at Anfield.

Villarreal had one shot in the entire game, none on target, as Liverpool controlled the tie and established a 2-0 lead through a Pervis Estupinan own goal plus Sadio Mane’s 20th goal of the season. The Spanish side’s attempt was the joint-lowest number in a Champions League semi-final since the data started being recorded in 2003-04.

Liverpool also had two goals disallowed for offside but Klopp, whose team remain on course for an unprecedented quadruple, claims Villarreal will be far more dangerous on home soil next Tuesday.

“It’s 2-0, half-time, no more, no less,” the Liverpool manager said. “It is a dangerous scoreline. How much work is left to do? The full work.


“Nothing has happened yet. It’s 2-0 at half-time and we have to be completely on alert and 100 per cent in the right mood. We have to play the second half like the first half, as though there is nothing to defend.

“We know we go there and it will be a tricky atmosphere for us. It will be different to tonight. These players, this coach, they will fight for it with all they have. And what I like is that we also fight with it with all we have.

“If they beat us with a result that takes them to the final, then they deserve it. If not, then we deserve it. That’s how the competition is. We played a really good game and now in five [six] days we play again and we have to make sure we are ready.”

Klopp hailed Sadio Mané’s versatility after the Senegal forward scored to help his side secure the win over Villarreal.

“He can play left, he can play central, both positions world class,” Klopp told reporters when asked why

Mane has played centrally in recent weeks. “He started for us here at Liverpool on the right wing. Some people in the room will remember his goal at Arsenal when it was his first goal, when he cut inside and fired the ball with his left foot into the far corner. Absolutely outstanding, love it. “There are different ways that Sadio plays and sometimes we want him to drop slightly more, but today we wanted him to stay even more between the centre-halves, keep them away and offer the runs in behind. He has the skillset for it ...”

Mane’s goal was his 14th in the Champions League knockout stages, the joint-most of any African player along with Didier Drogba.

Klopp claimed Liverpool’s maturity was key to victory, while Emery admitted his team were not allowed to implement their counterattacking gameplan by “the favourites for the Champions League”.

The Villarreal head coach said: “They were better than us over the 90 minutes.

We wanted to play a better game, create better chances for ourselves, we needed to be on the defensive a lot, we needed to be able to win the ball back and go out on the counterattack.

“We have got to accept what happened tonight and be optimistic that next week we can create danger for them. I can’t wait to get that game under way. I want to prepare for it and for you to see that we can take the game to them.” – Guardian/Reuters