EPL

'The best thing about the game was the result' – Klopp frustrated with below-par Liverpool display

By Sports Desk August 06, 2022

Jurgen Klopp conceded Liverpool must be happy with a point after "a really bad game" against Fulham.

The Reds, who looked sharp in defeating Manchester City 3-1 in last week's Community Shield, were unable to hit their best form on Saturday as they opened their Premier League campaign with a 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage.

Aleksandar Mitrovic scored Fulham's opener in the first half, but Liverpool hit back through substitute Darwin Nunez's first Premier League goal.

Mitrovic then became the first player to score twice for a promoted team on the opening day of a Premier League season since Steve Mounie for Huddersfield Town in 2017 when he netted from the penalty spot after drawing a foul from Virgil van Dijk.

Yet Liverpool had the resolve to restore parity for a second time, Nunez involved again when he perhaps inadvertently nudged down to Mohamed Salah, who swept home his eighth goal on the opening day of a Premier League campaign, the joint-highest total along with Alan Shearer, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney.

Liverpool have now gained 115 points from losing positions under Klopp in the Premier League, the most of any side since the German took over in October 2015, but he was far from pleased with what he saw in west London.

Klopp told BT Sport: "The best thing about the game is the result, that we got a point from a really bad game for my side. Now the question is how can that happen.

"The energy was not right in the beginning, then we wanted to fight back but it is not easy. The pitch was dry, we played really into their hands most of the time. When we found a bit of direction and ended up in front of their goal, we had the bigger chances.

"The result is fine, I don't think we deserved more than that, the performance… massively improvable.

"We cannot always hug the boys. We do that usually when they deserve it. When you start a game in a specific way that was opposite to how we wanted to start, really completely opposite, we didn't find direction. Everyone was under pressure, we couldn't break the lines, which was a clear message. We never had momentum.

"We could have won the game, we had the bigger chances, but that would probably have been a bit too much today."

Liverpool had some complaints about Fulham's opener, with Jordan Henderson claiming he had been fouled by Joao Palhinha in the build-up, though VAR did not intervene.

"It doesn't have to be deliberate, I think it's that they don't go back that far, that's the thing," said Klopp when asked about the incident.

"This result was not about the referee, but we discussed the situation in a Premier League meeting that the refs don't want to go that far back. I'm not sure how far back it was. If it was a foul, it would have been nice, but he saw it differently."

While Nunez became just the third player in Premier League history to both score and assist off the bench on his debut in the competition, Mitrovic has now scored 45 goals in English league football since the start of last season, 16 more than any other player.

Mitrovic managed only three top-flight goals in the 2020-21 season, but Fulham boss Marco Silva was thrilled with the striker's performance.

"Mitro is not just goals, if someone thinks that, forget [it]," Silva said on BT Sport. "The job he did this afternoon, for the team, his pressure, helping the midfielders, the back line… after that, if you deliver for him, he'll score.

"I have to congratulate him, the work he did without the ball he did was fantastic. He knows that, I demand that from him."

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    Tuchel and Spurs coach Antonio Conte clashed during and after the game, with their second confrontation resulting in both bosses being shown red cards.

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    Uruguay striker Nunez joined the Reds from Benfica in a transfer potentially worth £85million (€100m) in June, while Manchester City sealed a reported £51m (€60m) deal with Borussia Dortmund for Haaland a month earlier.

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    Klopp called for patience with Diaz ahead of Liverpool's first home game of the season against Crystal Palace on Monday.

    He added: "When Sadio played against us, he scored three times for Southampton but it was not that he scored every week. He didn't even start the game when he played against us.

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