Jurgen Klopp believed the manner of Liverpool’s come-from-behind victory over Crystal Palace is the perfect way to approach Wednesday’s mouth-watering Champions League clash with Manchester City.
Far from their best, the Reds were once again indebted to Mohamed Salah’s brilliance as the Egyptian netted his 37th goal of a quite remarkable season to leave Crystal Palace crestfallen at Selhurst Park.
Salah’s magnificence gives Liverpool fans a valid reason to feel quietly confident heading into Wednesday’s quarter-final first-leg at Anfield and his natural goalscoring instincts will serve as a huge threat to Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering City side.
Klopp’s demeanour at full-time, once victory over Palace had been assured, carried a little more vigour than usual to demonstrate the significance of the result and the impact it could have on the rest of Liverpool’s season.
A strong show of character, something which Klopp’s side are often accused of lacking, not only secured a major boost heading into the clash with City but also shored up a top-four place.
The German denied Liverpool’s sluggish start was due to having one eye on Wednesday and he paid tribute to his players for grinding out a “dirty” result in south London.
“I don’t think anybody thought for one second about the game on Wednesday,” Klopp insisted.
“I know my boys were not quite good enough but it was only difficult because it was difficult. We came back (from international duty). The first came back on Tuesday, didn’t train and then had a recovery day and a second recovery day means the first session was on Thursday.
“You come here and it’s kind of a battle again for everything.”
Klopp concedes that Manchester City will start as firm favourites to advance from their quarter-final tie but buoyed by inflicting a first league defeat on Guardiola’s side back in January, Liverpool will certainly not be overawed by the occasion.
The Anfield atmosphere will play a pivotal role in unnerving City and Klopp has backed himself to win the tactical duel against his Spanish counterpart.
“We know it’s difficult,” Klopp added. “Did we think before the first game we would lose 5-0? No. Did we think before the second we would win 4-3? No. But do we know we have a chance? Yes.
“At specific moments I think we are on a similar level but they have been much more consistent and that’s why they are about 20 higher in the league.
“If I would have had the choice to watch a Champions League game on Wednesday I would watch this one. It is about tactics but there will be fire in the game so that’s cool. And it’s at Anfield so the atmosphere will be good.”
For Roy Hodgson and Crystal Palace, the agony of suffering another late defeat at Selhurst Park will be difficult to swallow.
Salah’s late strike meant the Eagles set an unwanted record of becoming the first side in Premier League history to lose three consecutive home games because of goals conceded in the final 10 minutes.
Hodgson’s men were undone in the 88th minute by Tottenham last month, before Manchester United snatched all three points with the last kick of the game at the start of March.
The former England boss insists his side cannot afford to dwell on their latest misfortune against Liverpool.
“Our focus has to remain on the performances and to not get too hung up on the fact that we’ve had a little bit of bad luck so we start feeling sorry for ourselves,” Hodgson said.
“We’ve got results which are probably not the results we’ve deserved in the game but that is all part and parcel of football.
“If you start thinking it’s going to be easier because it’s no longer Liverpool or Tottenham or Man United or Chelsea, then you’re making a massive mistake.”
CRYSTAL PALACE (4-3-3):
Hennessey 6; Wan-Bissaka 6 (Fosu-Mensah 86 N/A), Kelly 6, Sakho 6, van Aanholt 6; McArthur 6, Milivojevic 6, Cabaye 6 (Loftus-Cheek 73 6); Townsend 6, Benteke 5, Zaha 6.
Lee, Cavalieri, Souare, Delaney, Riedewald.
Karius 6; Alexander-Arnold 6, Matip 5, Van Dijk 6, Robertson 6; Milner 6, Henderson 6, Wijnaldum 5 (Lallana 64 5) (Lovren 70 5); Salah 8, Firmino 7, Mane 6 (Oxlade-Chamberlain 64 6).
Clyne, Moreno, Mignolet, Ings.
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