THE BUCK

Klopp blames An­field pitch af­ter stale­mate

New Straits Times - - Sport -

saves.

Third-placed Liver­pool have now made qual­i­fy­ing for the Cham­pi­ons League more dif­fi­cult than they would have wished and Klopp, who spent most of the sec­ond half rant­ing on the side­lines, strug­gled to hide his dis­ap­point­ment.

The Reds boss cu­ri­ously in­sisted the poor qual­ity of the An­field sur­face had neg­a­tively af­fected his team’s per­for­mance.

“No­body wants to hear it but the pitch was re­ally dry to­day,” Klopp said.

“We gave all the wa­ter we had and af­ter 15 min­utes it was re­ally dry, a lot of passes you could say, ‘Why are they play­ing this?’

“In a home game you have to have the best cir­cum­stances but we couldn’t have this.

“It is not nice to drop points at home but now we play away and then we have an­other home game.”

Liver­pool’s top-four fu­ture is no longer en­tirely in their hands and Klopp ac­cepted he was up­set with how the match un­folded.

“It was a dif­fi­cult game. Southamp­ton played in a spe­cific way,” he said.

“Some peo­ple will say ev­ery­one will play like this but they will not. We needed to score. They were very dis­ci­plined, very deep.

“It is all about scor­ing one and we couldn’t do this. It made life not easy. We tried un­til the end but to­day was one of these days.

“We have only one point more, we wanted to have three points more. It is not the end of the world but we are re­ally dis­ap­pointed.”

Liver­pool needed to be fir­ing on all cylin­ders against a Southamp­ton side that were fix­ated on pick­ing up a point and set them on their way with a firsthalf penalty — shortly af­ter a su­perb save by their keeper Jor­dan Smith kept the scores level — and added his sec­ond and the hosts’ third with an ex­cel­lent solo ef­fort in the sec­ond half.

That had For­est man­ager Mark War­bur­ton, who took the job af­ter an ac­ri­mo­nious de­par­ture from Scot­tish gi­ants Rangers ear­lier this sea­son, charg­ing down the touch­line and fist­pump­ing in cel­e­bra­tion.

“When you heard the early goals else­where you could hear the nerves around the ground, but the boys stuck to their task,” War­bur­ton told the BBC.

“I’m de­lighted with the work ethic they showed. It’s great for the club and sup­port­ers and we noth­ing else and it was to the credit of Claude Puel’s side that they held on.

Forster was the best player on the pitch at An­field, div­ing low to stop Mil­ner’s penalty and mak­ing a su­perb tip-over from Marko Gru­jic in the clos­ing sec­onds.

Puel was thrilled his side re­sponded so well fol­low­ing last week’s scrappy draw against Hull.

“It was im­por­tant, I think af­ter Hull City, to cor­rect some things and I’m sat­is­fied with this game,” he said.

“It was a fan­tas­tic game and it was strong de­fen­sively. It was im­por­tant to play like this against a team with good qualities.

“It was dif­fi­cult for us to counter-at­tack but it was a fan­tas­tic ef­fort by the squad. We had good dis­ci­pline and we got good re­ward for that.” AFP have to build from here.”

Birm­ing­ham, whose wounds were largely self-in­flicted with a dis­as­trous run un­der Gian­franco Zola af­ter the own­ers re­moved Gary Rowett de­spite be­ing just out­side the play-offs, scraped the win they needed.

A first-half goal by Che Adams, in front of Bris­tol City’s big­gest crowd for 37 years of more than 25,000, raised a smile from vet­eran care­taker man­ager Harry Red­knapp and sighs of re­lief from the away fans.

“It’s fan­tas­tic. Three games. I looked at the fix­tures and thought, ‘Oh, they’re not great fix­tures!’” Red­knapp told Sky Sports.

“The two wins we’ve had have shown great char­ac­ter.” AFP

REUTERS PIC

New­cas­tle cel­e­brate win­ning the Cham­pi­onship af­ter beat­ing Barns­ley 3-0 on Sun­day.

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