Jürgen Klopp: Liverpool's first 20 minutes in Hoffenheim win was "like a thunderstorm"

Jürgen Klopp: Liverpool's first 20 minutes in Hoffenheim win was "like a thunderstorm"

Liverpool reached the Champions League group stages for 2017-18 with a 4-2 win over Hoffenheim on Wednesday night, Reds boss Jürgen Klopp delighted by the first 21 minutes which saw his side net three goals to end all hopes of a Hoffenheim comeback early on.

charlie-malam
Charlie Malam

Jürgen Klopp hailed Liverpool's first 21 minutes against Hoffenheim as a "thunderstorm" after his side powered three early goals inside an electric Anfield to kill off their Champions League qualifying tie.

The Reds won 4-2 on the night, conceding twice after their blistering opening, but the two-legged affair was practically all over from Emre Can's second - and Liverpool's third - to make it 5-1 on aggregate in the 21st minute.

That left the visiting German side needing five goals themselves to progress and while they got one in the first-half through Mark Uth, Roberto Firmino's second-half side-footer against his former club then restored Liverpool's convincing advantage.

Hoffenheim pulled another one back through Sandro Wagner late on but went down 6-3 on aggregate in their maiden continental campaign as Liverpool qualified for the tournament's group stages for the first time under Klopp.

Boss hails Liverpool's "outstanding" play

Celebrating the achievement, Klopp exclaimed afterwards: "Yippee! [It means] Everything. What can I say? It's all that the club, the team, we worked for in the last 14 months."

He added: "I know you will always find a few people who will say 'It's just the Champions League or only the Champions League.' But we wanted to be part of it with all we have."

The German hailed his side's display and felt they played "a few pieces of outstanding football" although he acknowledged that they faced "a few problems" which he believes is "how it is in a game like this, especially against an opponent like Hoffenheim."

He insisted that he was "really happy" for what he called Liverpool's "deserved qualification for the group stages", before batting away suggestions about their strong start to the campaign.

The second-leg victory means the Reds have won three of their first four games of the season across all competitions, drawing the other game, but Klopp feels winning is what the team "expect" from themselves and what "everybody expects from us."

"We controlled the second-half much better"

Singling out goalscorer Firmino for praise, Klopp enthused: "What a game he made today. It was pretty much in a lot of moments not to defend. He gave the opportunity to the two quick boys on the wings, that they could have one-on-one situations that they used outstandingly good again."

The Reds boss insisted that his side "played a few times really good football", though called it "the problem in this game" that they "were so dominant in the first part" and "so good, so dangerous and so clinical" but still "could have scored even more."

He noted that the home side "felt the intensity of the game" which meant the tempo settled but said at the end they "felt the relief of the result."

Klopp extended his commendations to Hoffenheim, giving them "big credit" for the fact that they "never stopped paying" and "were not really bothered about the score-line."

Klopp also credited the "outstanding" Anfield atmosphere which he joked was "too loud" for him "to get in contact" with his players on the pitch.

He explained that Hoffenheim's slight change of system caused Liverpool problems to which they "should have adapted much quicker to" but vowed that they "will in the future 100 per-cent."

The 50-year-old acknowledged that his players "needed half-time to adjust a little bit" and said: "We did and in the second half, we controlled it much better, even when it's not always possible. We could have scored [the fourth goal] earlier but, [I'm] fine [with it]."

Klopp pleased by Reds' whirlwind football

Klopp was asked about the sublime quality of Liverpool's third goal, which saw Gini Wijnaldum release Sadio Mané into space.

The winger darted into the box, back-heeled the ball into Firmino's path and the Brazilian clipped a cross over the opposite side of the box for Can to tap in a delightful second of the evening.

On whether Liverpool have netted a better goal under his charge, he said: "A better team goal? I don’t know. Maybe? I think we scored a few nice ones but that was outstandingly good. The start of the game was like a thunderstorm."

He said that having won the away leg 2-1, Hoffenheim might have thought that Liverpool would "sit a little bit back and wait to see what they do and go for counter-attacks."

Klopp explained that his "different" plan, which he believed "made sense", was to have "high pressure" on Hoffenheim's back-line which he felt they executed "really well."

"All the passes we played, all the balls we won, it was really fantastic. Usually after 3-0 that early, it's normal that there's a little break [in intensity]. I don't like it, but it's normal," Klopp said.

He talked about Hoffenheim boss Julian Nagelsmann's decision to introduce an extra striker - goalscorer Uth - and take off a centre-back which "changed the system." 

Klopp called the move "brave" because he felt the Bundesliga side "could have conceded more goals and were a little bit lucky in one or two situations."

But he admitted: "We also [were lucky] in one or two situations, so this game was crazy and could have ended 9-7. But even then we would have been in the group stage, so it's deserved."

We're aiming for last 16 berth to start off with, says Klopp

Klopp admitted: "I don't know. I don't think that it's too important to think about where we can go. When you are in the group stage, then you want to go through the group stage and to the last 16. You want to go there and to the next round, that's how it is."

He insisted that "a lot of things are possible" for his Liverpool side but not simply because he says them, calling upon his side focus on being "really ready for all these games."

"It's so exciting now to be part of it," a beaming Klopp said. "For me personally, I don’t know exactly [when I last managed in it], it's two or three years ago."

He added that he "loved it always" as a manager in the Champions League and still does, stating: "The players love it, the crowd loves it. We will have a few fantastic European nights at Anfield. All good in the moment."

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