Klopp’s Liverpool revolution looks like being a slow one

Reds fail to win against a Rubin Kazan side reduced to 10 men in first half

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp on the sideline during the Europa League Group B game agaibnst Rublin Kazan at Anfield. Photograph:   Phil Noble/Reuters/Livepic

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp on the sideline during the Europa League Group B game agaibnst Rublin Kazan at Anfield. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters/Livepic

 

Liverpool 1 Rubin Kazan 1

It was a good night on Merseyside for Germans, Jürgen Klopp received a rousing welcome and Emre Can scored Liverpool’s only goal, yet at the end of the evening the result and the performance remained stubbornly the same.

A disappointing 1-1 home draw with FC Sion of Switzerland was one of the reasons the Brendan Rodgers era came to a close. Considering Liverpool were playing against 10 men for more than 50 minutes following the dismissal of one of Rubin Kazan’s defenders, this was not quite the fresh start the club was looking for.

The Jürgen Klopp Revolution – copyright a few thousand scarves and T-shirts on sale outside Anfield – began with a selection of fairly naff German Europop tunes as the sharp-suited new manager took the field before kick-off to watch his players go through a slightly altered warm-up.

Perhaps the stadium announcer needs to update his heavy metal collection, although the reception from the Kop was a warm one, right down to the assortment of banners relaying various positive messages beneath iconic artwork involving club caps and spectacles. Far From Normal, read one, while another referenced The Monkees and Klopp’s initial plea to supporters: Then I Saw His Face, Now I’m A Believer. Wigan Athletic actually had that idea first, and look where they are now, but Liverpool went ahead and played the record anyway.

By the time a full-throated You’ll Never Walk Alone had been rendered it was becoming necessary to remind oneself that the purpose of the evening was a football match and not an evangelist meeting, yet once the game started there was an undeniable zip and purpose about the home side that the crowd was all too happy to applaud.

The hitherto languid Can took up where he left off at White Hart Lane and charged about the pitch as if he had been personally tasked with bullying the visitors into making mistakes, while Adam Lallana again played like a man worried he might only have half an hour or so to show what he could do.

Broadly speaking, the high energy pressing worked in that Rubin Kazan were never allowed any time to settle on the ball, much less set up attacks, though it only worked for 15 minutes. Perhaps suspecting Liverpool were rushing around a little too frantically for their own good, the visitors took an early lead with a goal that demonstrated that good sides do not need a great deal of time on the ball to get results.

All it took was a well-timed run into the area by Marko Devic, an accurate ball forward from Blagoy Georgiev in the centre circle to find him, and the manner in which the striker held off Nathaniel Clyne’s challenge while controlling the ball on his chest before beating Simon Mignolet was skill of the sort Anfield must have enjoyed in spite of itself.

Liverpool attempted to hit back immediately, with Lallana first shooting wide then heading narrowly over from Alberto Moreno’s free-kick, then Divock Origi was unable to convert when Clyne’s cross reached him in front of goal.

Philippe Coutinho was presented with the ball by a defensive mistake but did not get his shot away decisively enough and eventually missed the target, and for all the home side’s efforts it was the Russians who came closest to scoring before their numbers were reduced, Georgiev bringing a fingertip save from Mignolet when unmarked near the penalty spot.

The game changed 10 minutes from the interval when Liverpool got lucky, or conversely when Oleg Kuzmin grew stupid. Already cautioned for a foul on Moreno, the right back dragged down Can blatantly and unnecessarily and collected a second yellow from the Austrian referee.

Gegenpressing will obviously work that bit better when facing 10 men for more than half the game, although in the event Liverpool rubbed salt into Kazan’s wounds by equalising directly from the free-kick. Coutinho angled the ball in, Origi headed it down across goal, and Can was on hand to hook the ball over the line from close range. As countless managers down the years would confirm, all the tactics in the world can still be confounded by a bit of luck. Liverpool could even have ended the first half in front had not another Coutinho shot rolled inches wide.

Rubin Kazan withdrew their main striker at half-time and settled for damage limitation, a prospect made more remote when Klopp sent on Christian Benteke for the last half hour. Liverpool had made several second-half chances before then but contrived to miss them all, with Coutinho and Can the most conspicuous offenders. Benteke’s first chance came 15 minutes from time when he volleyed rather wastefully over from Clyne’s cross, and by that time Klopp had decided to bring Roberto Firmino into the action as well.

Benteke then proceeded to hit a post from Lallana’s pass as the visitors began to ride their luck, but though the traffic was all one way the 10 men managed to hold out. While pressing might be Klopp’s priority, the new manager also needs to take a look at Liverpool’s creativity when in possession.

(Guardian service)

Molde 3 Celtic 1

Celtic’s Europa League hopes were blown off course against Molde in dreadful conditions at the blustery Aker Stadion in Norway.

The artificial surface was rendered all but unplayable in places by swirling wind and rain as first-half goals by striker Ola Kamara, who had played under Hoops boss Ronny Deila at Stromsgodset, and defender Vegard Forren gave the home side a two-goal interval lead.

As the players continued to slip and slide after the break, Kris Commons reduced the lead in the 54th minute with a well-taken goal but seconds later Mohamed Elyounoussi restored the Norwegian club’s advantage.

Celtic could not get back into the match and have two points from three Group A games with Molde still sitting atop with seven points ahead of their visit to Glasgow on November 5th where Deila’s side need a win to get back on track.

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