Klopp, Liverpool optimistic after UCL first leg but ‘nothing’s happened yet’
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp isn’t getting too high despite his side’s dominant showing against Villarreal in a 2-0 UEFA Champions League semifinal first-leg win at Anfield on Wednesdau.
“Nothing [has] happened yet,” Klopp said of the first 90 minutes. “For me the best example is you play a game and it’s 2-0 at halftime. You have to be completely on alert and 100 percent in the right mood. You have to play the second half like you play the first half.”
Klopp was joined by his players in expressing respect for the opposition -- the manager credited Villarreal and boss Unai Emery for “fighting for it with all they have” -- and both Jordan Henderson and Andy Robertson were proud of the Liverpool effort at Anfield.
“We knew they’re a good side, very well organized so it was a big challenge for us and they made it difficult,” Henderson said. “I thought our performance level was really good, our energy was really good. ... Obviously you want to keep coming and score more goals but they’re a very good side. It’s the semifinal of the Champions League, it’s always difficult.”
Robertson said the Anfield response to the Henderson cross that became a Pervis Estupinan own goal is one of the things that drove the Reds to their second goal two minutes later.
“We had a bit of momentum after the first goal and the noise in here was incredible... It took us to the second one,” Robertson said. “We would have liked one more but a clean sheet and two goals, we can’t argue with that. ... It is the semi-final of the Champions League. If you can’t run around for 90 minutes in this kind of game, when will you? Our intensity has been high last couple of games. We have had a hectic schedule but we are enjoying it. There is still work to do but we are happy.”
The Reds feel like they have more than one foot in the final, as the first leg could’ve been much more definitive than 2-0, but Villarreal will be much more open for the second leg at home. That could lead to a lot more Liverpool goals, too, but the Reds are right to only sound cautiously optimistic notes, especially with two tournament-savvy managers matching wits and capable of tactical masterstrokes.