Liver­pool are ma­ture but ‘not the Har­lem Glo­be­trot­ters’, says Klopp

The Guardian Australia - - Technology / Sport - Paul Doyle at the Amex Sta­dium

Jür­gen Klopp praised his play­ers for pro­duc­ing their “most ma­ture per­for­mance of the sea­son” to re­turn Liver­pool to win­ning ways af­ter back-to­back de­feats. A loss at Brighton, af­ter be­ing beaten ear­lier this month by Manch­ester City and knocked out of the FA Cup on Mon­day by Wolves, would have raised con­cerns that Liver­pool were feel­ing jit­tery as the ti­tle race in­ten­si­fied but they pre­vailed at the Amex Sta­dium thanks to a sec­ond-half penalty by Mo­hamed Salah.

The win in­creased their lead at the top of the ta­ble to seven points, with Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur and Manch­ester City play­ing on Sun­day and Mon­day re­spec­tively. “If you fall from the horse, you have to get back on it,” said Klopp of his team’s re­sponse to their two de­feats. “So [the win] is good and im­por­tant but we didn’t make a big fuss about two de­feats.”

Klopp said the most pleas­ing fea­ture of the vic­tory was his play­ers’ at­ti­tude. They did not at­tack with their cus­tom­ary brio but they never looked flus­tered and of­fered lit­tle hope to Brighton. “When you speak about ma­tu­rity, [it is about] how they de­fended,” he said. “If you see it in their faces, how Bobby [Firmino] is talk­ing to ev­ery­body and they’re all de­fend­ing. The boys worked re­ally hard and de­served the three points, ab­so­lutely.

“The head­line be­fore the game was: ‘Be ready.’ The head­line af­ter the game is: ‘Very ma­ture.’ It was a big chal­lenge for ev­ery­body to stay clam and con­cen­trated be­cause each lit­tle sit­u­a­tion can be a mas­sive threat on the counter or what­ever. And don’t make any fouls be­cause Brighton is un­be­liev­ably strong on set pieces. That level of con­cen­tra­tion is dif­fi­cult to keep but they did it.

“We are not the Har­lem Glo­be­trot­ters. We have to de­liver re­sults and that’s dif­fi­cult. For that we need to per­form. The per­for­mance was good, not the best of the sea­son, but from a ma­tu­rity point of view I would say it was the most ma­ture of the sea­son.”

Brighton’s man­ager, Chris Hughton, said that he, un­like the home fans, had no griev­ance with the ref­eree over the penalty awarded to Liver­pool – for a clear foul by Pas­cal Gross on Salah – and said he makes Liver­pool favourites to win the ti­tle. “At the mo­ment they are in pole po­si­tion with the points they have to play with and the qual­ity they have,” he said.

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