Jurgen Klopp has no case for the defence after Liverpool’s loss in Toulouse

By Sports Desk November 09, 2023

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits he is more concerned with side’s defensive display than the role VAR played in denying his side a late Europa League draw in Toulouse.

Individual mistakes and a lack of collective cohesion saw the hosts take a 3-1 lead but Diogo Jota’s 89th-minute strike, after Cristian Casseres’ own goal had got them back into the game, set up a dramatic conclusion.

In the seventh and final minute of added time 20-year-old centre-back Jarell Quansah thought he had equalised but after a long delay referee Georgi Kabakov was advised to go to the pitchside monitor and he ruled Alexis Mac Allister had handled the ball, even though it had initially bounced up off his chest very early in the move for the goal.

“I only saw the video back now and for me it’s not a handball – but how can I decide that?” said Klopp.

“Actually, I am a bit more concerned about (the fact that) I would have loved us to have played better, to be honest. That’s my main issue tonight.

“In the end, we were intense, we threw everything in, but the problem is in a football game you have to make the decisive things in the right moment to do them right.”

Liverpool’s problem was a side registering nine changes from Sunday’s draw at Luton never found any rhythm or structure and opponents who were hammered 5-1 at Anfield a fortnight ago took full advantage.

They were not helped by Kostas Tsimikas’ error dawdling in possession costing them the important opening goal to Aron Donnum.

“We cannot concede the goals we conceded again,” added Klopp.

“The first goal can happen, but then it happened in the second half with similar situations: we were completely open, last line too deep, counter-attack.

“They scored five goals, two disallowed, and that is obviously then not good. Yes, the result is the opposite of good, but the performance was just not good enough.

“It was well deserved to lose because they won pretty much all the decisive battles. We had too many situations where we should have won the ball but we didn’t.

“On top of that we gave the ball away easily at least twice – one was a goal, the other I am not sure if it was an allowed goal or a disallowed goal.

“Defending-wise it was just not good enough.”

Defeat ends a three-match winning run and although Liverpool remain top of the group their advantage has been cut to two points.

They also missed out on guaranteeing top spot early and therefore also skipping the additional play-off round in the knockout phase after LASK’s victory over Union Saint-Gilloise meant victory would have given them an unassailable lead.

The consequences of that are if Toulouse win their next game against Union the race to top the group will go down to the final round, and with Liverpool’s trip to Belgium coming immediately before the Premier League visit of arch-rivals Manchester United Klopp would have been hoping that fixture was a dead rubber to allow him to rest players.

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    Nunez marked his return from injury by heading home in the ninth minute of time added on to seal a 1-0 win, which lifted his side four points clear at the top of the Premier League.

    But the Uruguay international’s last-gasp effort left Forest’s players, staff and fans furious at the final whistle after referee Paul Tierney had stopped play before the build-up to Liverpool’s winner for an apparent head injury to Ibrahima Konate.

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    Klopp said: “It happened exactly the same in the first half didn’t it? Exactly the same, just the other way round.

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    Earlier in the game, Tierney halted a Liverpool attack after Forest skipper Ryan Yates was felled by Harvey Elliott’s shot and play resumed with home goalkeeper Matz Sels taking possession.

    Klopp said: “I understand 100 per cent the excitement and the anger of Nottingham, of course, they fought for everything. But it happened twice the same and was consistent.”

    Nunez’s last-gasp effort secured Liverpool their first league win at the City Ground in almost 40 years and 14 matches to heap the pressure on Manchester City and Arsenal, who play on Sunday and Monday respectively.

    Klopp said it had been a huge effort from his injury-hit squad, who have registered six straight wins in all competitions, including last Sunday’s League Cup final win over Chelsea.

    “Four games in 11 days, come on. Five in 15,” Klopp added. “It’s really tough. With our squad situation it’s super-tough and how the boys fought through that is really special.

    “The fourth game was the toughest. It was an unbelievable effort the boys put in. A proper, proper shift.

    “If you had asked me 12 days ago if it was possible to win all four games, I’d have said no.”

    Forest’s players and staff surrounded Tierney at the final whistle, with coach Steven Reid shown a red card, while boss Nuno Espirito Santo refused to comment on the incident after the final whistle.

    Forest later dismissed reports that owner Evangelos Marinakis had chased Tierney down the tunnel.

    Nuno said: “I will not comment on the referee. We played a very good game against a very good team, fantastic players and manager and we limited them.

    “They had chances, we had chances, it was a good game of football. We had clear chances to do better, to improve. We should have been more clinical.

    “I’m proud of the boys because they worked very hard. They combined, they helped each other, they defend the box, they did two-on-ones – they did everything. But we can improve.”

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    The Uruguay striker headed home in the ninth minute of added time to lift Jurgen Klopp’s injury-hit side four points clear at the top of the table.

    It appeared that three games in seven days had caught up with the Merseysiders, but Nunez’s last-gasp winner clinched them a first league win at the City Ground in almost 40 years and 14 matches.

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    Divock Origi had Forest fans on the edge of their seats with the game’s first shot on goal in the 15th minute as his low 25-yard effort against his former club fizzed past Caoimhin Kelleher’s left-hand post.

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    Origi’s precise pass sprang Anthony Elanga clear one-on-one with Kelleher, who saved brilliantly with his legs to deny the Sweden forward.

    Forest defender Murillo then thwarted Diaz in front of goal as a high-tempo first half ebbed and flowed.

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    Teenager Bobby Clark made way for Nunez having made his first Premier League start, while Robertson went off for Japan midfielder Endo.

    Nuno was quickly into the action, firing into the side-netting, but it was Forest who threatened to break the deadlock when Elanga’s first-time effort from Harry Toffolo’s cross was off target.

    Liverpool teenager Jayden Danns made his first Premier League appearance as a late substitute for Cody Gakpo as the visitors pressed for a winner.

    Forest skipper Ryan Yates brilliantly blocked Nunez’s shot on the edge of the box, but after Morgan Gibbs-White’s effort was blocked at the other end, Forest were punished for failing to clear a corner.

    Mac Allister swung over a cross from the right and Nunez stole in between Forest’s defenders to secure Liverpool a sixth straight win in all competitions.

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