Premier League • England

Klopp tears into Liverpool display and attitude that was ‘complete opposite’ of what he envisioned; clashes again with old enemy Des Kelly

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp labelled his side’s opening display against Fulham as “massively improvable”, and couldn’t resist correcting old foe BT Sport’s Des Kelly.

The Reds were given a stern test by Premier League new boys Fulham and could only manage a draw after twice falling behind. Fulham were sharper to the ball and more tenacious in every duel in the early going. Just after the half hour mark, their efforts were rewarded.

Aleksandar Mitrovic opened the scoring with a close-range header after getting the better of Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Liverpool levelled through Darwin Nunez after the hour mark and took momentum, though an uncharacteristic error from Virgil van Dijk stopped them in their tracks.

The Dutchman conceded a penalty when turned inside out by the lively Mitrovic. The Serbian marksman doubled his tally from the spot, though their lead didn’t last long.

Mohamed Salah brought Liverpool back on terms late on to set up a grandstand finish. However, hopes of late drama were dashed with Fulham seeing out the game’s final stages with relative ease to secure an impressive 2-2 draw.

Speaking to BT Sport after the match, Klopp said: “The best thing about the game is the result actually, that we get a point from a really bad game from my side.

“Now it’s a question [of] how can it happen? The attitude was not right in the beginning. Then we wanted to fight back but you don’t find it easy anymore.

“The pitch was dry, stuff like this, we played really [into] their cards. Most of the time when we found a bit of direction we ended up in front of their goal and hit the crossbar, all these kind of things.

“The result is fine, I don’t think we deserved more than that (a draw), but the performance is massively improvable.”

When quizzed on if his half-time team talk was straight forward, Klopp gave a wry smile before saying: “Yeah, you cannot always hug the boys, we do that usually when they deserve it.

“We started the game in a specific way that was the opposite to what we wanted, the complete opposite.”

Klopp and Des Kelly at it again

Fulham’s first goal came in the same passage of play as a clash between Joao Palhinha and Jordan Henderson that left the Reds captain on the deck.

When pushed on if it was a foul and the goal should therefore not have stood, Klopp said: “I don’t know, was it a foul or not?”

BT interviewer Des Kelly – who has clashed with Klopp on numerous occasions regarding fixture scheduling –  responded by stating the contact looked accidental.

A bemused looking Klopp snapped back: “Fouls don’t have to be deliberate. They (VAR) don’t go back that far, I think that’s more the thing. This result was not about the referee.”

BT studio host, Lynsey Hipgrave, subsequently confirmed VAR did not get involved due to the incident being “subjective” as well as too far back in the passage of play.