Kid’s play for the Reds men

Liver­pool end the show as the pup­peteer

The Star (Kenya) - - Sports - LON­DON/

Juer­gen Klopp crit­i­cised Liver­pool’s open­ing 15 min­utes as “child­ish” but his men then made beat­ing Crys­tal Palace seem like mere child’s play with Philippe Coutinho their master pup­peteer on Satur­day.

Af­ter the 4-2 vic­tory at Sel­hurst Park that puts Liver­pool along­side Manch­ester City and Arse­nal atop the league, Klopp re­vealed his per­fec­tion­ist’s streak when out­lin­ing the er­rors that made the con­test much closer than it should have been.

Yet even the de­mand­ing Ger­man had to con­cede that dur­ing his year-long reign at An­field, he could barely re­mem­ber watch­ing such at­trac­tive at­tack­ing fare from his band of red-shirted cava­liers.

“The first 15 min­utes, I was not too happy. It looked like child­ish foot­ball, but no greed, no di­rec­tion,” Klopp re­flected on BT Sport af­ter the goals from Emre Can, De­jan Lovren, Joel Matip and Roberto Firmino.

“But then we scored and we started play­ing foot­ball and I’m not sure that we’ve played a lot of times bet­ter than we played of­fen­sive-wise.

“For half an hour, we cre­ated chance af­ter chance af­ter chance but did not score of­ten enough.”

Klopp’s Liver­pool still of­fer a de­fen­sive frailty that twice al­lowed Palace’s cen­tral de­fender James McArthur to head the home side back into a game in which they were be­ing largely out­classed.

Yet once again, the vis­i­tors pro­duced such py­rotech­nics in at­tack, with Coutinho look­ing sim­ply the most tal­ented mid­field fire­lighter in the league, that it was easy to over­look the mess at the other end.

The Brazil­ian had a header tipped on to the post bril­liantly by Steve Man­danda, he ini­ti­ated the open­ing goal and his cor­ners were con­verted by Lovren and Matip. It was the sort of vir­tu­oso dis­play that has be­come the norm rather than a rare star­burst.

Yet Klopp, never one to rave about in­di­vid­u­als when he can con­cen­trate on the team, re­fused to go too over­board.

Asked to com­ment about Coutinho, he smiled: “Good foot­ball player.” Then, pressed to elab­o­rate, he added to much laugh­ter: “Very good foot­ball player.”

Even­tu­ally, Klopp had to con­cede: “He’s now 24, his work rate is out­stand­ing.”

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