Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has issued a warning that the tie is far from over and that Villarreal would face a different proposition at Anfield in the second leg.
The German was overall pleased with Liverpool’s professional approach but disappointed with a late show of inexperience, as a momentary lapse of concentration in the dying minutes of the match had shifted the balance slightly in Villarreal’s favour, when it seemed the teams were heading for the second leg at Anfield with the tie evenly poised.
Liverpool were caught on the counter-attack and substitute Adrian Lopez scored the winner in the 92nd minute after a brilliantly constructed move from Bruno Soriano and Denis Suarez.
The defeat was Liverpool’s first in Europe this season but Klopp is confident his side can turn the tide at Anfield in a week’s time.
“I am pleased with the performance, a lot of parts we did really well. Villarreal are a good side but Liverpool are a good side, too,” said Klopp. “To control a game like this in most parts of the game is good. To concede from a 92nd-minute counterattack, it sounds like it is – not too good. Everyone knows it and it should not happen.”
“We had a great moment with Alberto [Moreno] and then we had a header from Christian [Benteke]. Maybe the youth came through at that point. Until then it was really a professional performance. To be honest it is the first leg. My first thought as everyone around me was celebrating was: ‘Sorry, but it is not over, you have to come to Anfield too and we will be ready.’”
Klopp insists that it is too early for Villarreal to celebrate and expects a completely different game at Anfield. The German added:
“They are strong in counterattacks and we have to score at home. I am expecting a completely different game. I am looking forward to Anfield.”
Liverpool boast of an illustrious history of winning big European games at Anfield, and Klopp already had experienced one after his side won a dramatic 4-3 thriller against Borussia Dortmund in the previous Europa League encounter earlier this month.
In recent past, Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool defeated Chelsea twice at Anfield (2004/05 and 2006/07) in the second leg in the Champions League, while a famous 4-1 victory against Benfica in 2009/10 in Europa League springs to mind.
It will be a fascinating contest at Anfield. Liverpool have to score on the night, but Villarreal are a well organised team and are capable of hurting the Reds on the counter.