Jurgen Klopp has described Liverpool’s performance as “very emotional” and “smart” after the Reds secured an emphatic 3-0 victory over Villarreal in the second leg of the European semifinal tie at Anfield.
Villarreal manager Marcelino said prior to the match that his team “in no way will we be affected negatively by the atmosphere, if anything we will be affected positively, galvanised by it”, but it seemed they were not only outplayed but succumbed to the electric atmosphere created by the home fans at Anfield.
A Bruno Soriano own goal gave Liverpool an early lead, but despite creating a few good chances the scoreline remained 1-0 at half time. Strikes from Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana in the second half booked a spot in the Europa finals for the Reds against defending champions Sevilla later this month.
Liverpool will be allotted some 10,000 tickets for the Europa League final in Basel, but Klopp says his team will be joined by the Merseyside contingent.
“I do not have the right words for this performance – the whole performance – from 6.45pm when we drove through the roads. What power for the first 30 minutes. The will was obvious. In the second half it was emotional and smart.”
It was a perfect night for Liverpool, where the players and the fans responded to the demands of their manager. While the vociferous Kopites kept on cheering the team, Liverpool players showed great maturity and tactical astuteness to see off a challenge from the La Liga outfit.
Klopp was involved in a touchline spat with his opposite number, complaining about some of Villarreal players’ rash tackles. There was certainly no love lost between the two even after the final whistle, as they aimed dig at each other at press conference.
Klopp asked about Marcelino saying he wouldn’t celebrate a win like Klopp: ‘I wouldn’t be like him for a second in my life!’ #LFC
— Andy Kelly (@AndyK_LivNews) May 5, 2016
The German ushered heaps of praise on England striker Daniel Sturridge, who justified his manager’s faith by scoring one and nearly scoring another that was turned in by Soriano.
Marcelino accused referee Viktor Kassai for being impartial, after showing Victor Ruiz a second yellow card with the score at 2-0.
“In the context of this game the referee was letting a lot go so to then see a sending-off you make your own conclusions,” said Marcelino.
“I don’t think the refereeing was quite equal for both sides.”
The Spaniard admitted that the defeat was hard to swallow and took a sly dig at Liverpool for playing with an intensity on the “margins of the rules at times”.