Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says he was happy with a draw at Goodison Park following an emotional last 20 minutes of football.
The Reds had the better of the first half, with Dominic Solanke and James Milner having the best chances for the visitors. Despite a late spur from the hosts, including chances made for and by Cenk Tosun, there was to be no beating of either keeper.
Klopp said: “We controlled 60 or 70 minutes of the game, then it got emotional but we expected that. We still had to play football and control the game and we did that, we created chances and had the best chance of the first half.
“We got a clean sheet and defended well but in the last 20 minutes we need to play a little bit more football again and we didn’t. But we got the result, so I’m happy.”
Could have been better
The result leaves Liverpool three points clear of Tottenham, though Spurs have two games in hand on the Reds.
“It’s not our first-choice result,” Klopp admitted. “It’s our second-choice and I’m happy with it. We got a result in the end and kept a clean sheet. The atmosphere was good, intense but not too aggressive.
“It’s a nice place to come. Not long to drive home and then we go and rest and prepare for the next game, so I’m completely happy.”
Praise for Karius
The Reds boss was happy with the performance of Loris Karius, who seems to have finally settled into the number one shirt at Liverpool, as shown by his superb save from Yannick Bolasie’s effort in the first half.
On the save, Klopp said: “It was a nice one! I only saw in the first moment that the shot changes direction, it wasn’t until I saw it on the screen that I said ‘wow’. Very good save and a very good moment for him.”
Today marked the first Merseyside derby to not feature a yellow card, something Klopp said he was happy to see.
“In the last few derbies we could have had red cards in each one,” he said. “Today everybody wanted to play football and win the game and you could see that so I was completely happy with that."
The game also marked the return of Nathaniel Clyne, who played the full 90 minutes, and a rare start for Danny Ings, who has been plagued with injury during Klopp’s tenure.
Klopp said: “Ingsy and Clyne were fantastic. Not Ings’ position out wide but he worked really hard and I was very happy for him. He needs more time and he will deliver goals.
“What a player Clyne is. He didn’t play football for what, nine months? He was great.”
Liverpool were without Mohamed Salah for the derby, after he limped off against Manchester City early in the second half. Fellow starters Roberto Firmino and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made the bench while Andy Robertson didn’t make the squad, but Klopp says he won’t know who’s available for the return leg with City until closer to kick-off.
“We will see closer to the day. I rested those who had the most minutes on Wednesday. Technically Milner wasn’t allowed to play but because he’s fit and he’s in a good moment we went with it, then by the time I brought him off he was probably the best player on the pitch!”