Jurgen Klopp explained a decision that sparked debate among the pundits, and revealed his one complaint in the first half.
Liverpool secured a commanding two-goal lead in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final tie with Villarreal. The Spaniards set out their stall from the get go with goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli wasting time from minute one.
Chances came and went and the woodwork was struck twice, though when half-time came, the scores remained 0-0.
Yet Liverpool kept their composure and made the breakthrough soon after the break in fortunate circumstances.
Jordan Henderson’s deflected cross looped over Rulli, though there was no luck involved minutes later.
Neat interplay between Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane saw the Senegalese played through. After wayward finishing blighted his first half, Mane made no mistake this time, prodding the ball beyond the helpless Rulli to double the lead.
Villarreal remained content to return home just two goals down. They got their wish, though Liverpool will fancy their chances of winning in Spain next Tuesday anyway.
Klopp details “only problem” in first half he loved
Speaking to BT Sport after the match, Klopp said: “It was a brilliant game.
“The first half I liked a lot – we didn’t score, that was the only problem that we had.
“But we kept them quiet, which was important because of the counter-attacking threat.
“We tried to create, tried to be direct, mix it up, play through the lines. We had a lots of good moments, no goals, true, but I was really fine with the first half.
“And then in the second half, obviously we finished the situations off. Both goals were outstanding.”
One topic of conversation in the BT Sport studio regarded whether Liverpool should’ve pushed harder for a third and thus effectively killed the tie off at half time.
Indeed, Virgil van Dijk was seen barking at Ibrahima Konate to up the tempo late on, though Klopp’s substitutions suggested he was content to settle for a two-goal lead.
The German’s subs were all like-for-like, though replacing Trent Alexander-Arnold with Joe Gomez dampened their attacking threat for the final 10 minutes.
On the subject of settling at 2-0, Klopp explained: “We wanted to score a third, but from a specific moment on it makes sense that you control the game, and that is what we did.
“It’s half-time, nothing else, but it’s better than before the game.”