Jurgen Klopp admits reaching Champions League final ‘seems like the first time’ as Mohamed Salah eyes Real Madrid revenge | Soccer News

Jurgen Klopp said reaching his fourth Champions League final as a manager felt almost like a new experience as his Liverpool side came back from two goals down against Villarreal to secure a 5-2 aggregate win in the semi-finals. final on Tuesday.

While the three-goal cushion might seem comfortable, it was a test of Liverpool’s nerve and powers of recovery, as a terrible first half by their standards saw their first-leg advantage shattered by early goals in the competition. by Boulaye Dia and Francis Coquelin.

But the half-time introduction of January’s £37.5m signing Luis Diaz, who reinvigorated 2022 for Klopp’s side, was a game-changer – helped by a poor goalkeeping performance by Geronimo Rulli from the hosts.

Goals from Fabinho and Diaz went through Rulli’s legs, while the goalkeeper was beaten to the ball by Sadio Mane when he came on to charge to leave the Senegal striker with an unguarded net to seal victory in the night.

The introduction of Luis Diaz has galvanized Liverpool

“It’s like the first in 20 (years),” said Klopp, who led Borussia Dortmund to the competition final in 2013 and Liverpool in 2018 and 2019. BT Sports. “It’s exceptional because we obviously complicated things for ourselves, but we knew that this kind of thing could happen.”

Liverpool head to the final in Paris to face either Real Madrid or Manchester City, who play their return leg in Madrid on Wednesday with City holding a slim 4-3 aggregate lead.

Klopp’s side were shocked by Villarreal’s aggressive first-half marking which took them out of their own pressure play, and the coach admitted he struggled to find the best moments from the first 45 minutes to show his players.

Diaz brought the Liverpool charge to life
Diaz brought the Liverpool charge to life

“We knew what was wrong because it was obvious, but we didn’t have a situation to show them where we were right,” Klopp explained.

“I said (to my team) ‘find one where we do it well and we can show it’, and we walked in and they said ‘no, we don’t have it’.”

The arrival of Colombian winger Diaz at the break seemed to enliven Liverpool’s attack.

“Obviously Luis, what a player he is, but it’s not about who came in, it’s about how we started playing,” Klopp explained.

The 54-year-old said he had no preference for who his side will face in the final on May 28, saying “whoever it is, it will be huge”.

Salah: I want to play against Real Madrid

Mohamed Salah would like to face Real Madrid again
Mohamed Salah would like to face Real Madrid again

Mohamed Salah has admitted he would rather face Real Madrid than Manchester City in Paris in revenge for Liverpool’s 3-1 loss to the Spanish giants in the 2018 final in Kyiv.

Salah left the pitch in tears when he was forced off with a shoulder injury in the first half of that game and said he would relish the opportunity to face Madrid again.

“I want to play in Madrid, I have to be honest,” said Salah BT Sports. “City are a really tough team. We’ve played against them a few times this season.

“But I think, if you ask me personally, I prefer Madrid, because we lost in the final [to them]so I want to play against them and hopefully we will win.”

Salah, who provided the assist for Fabinho’s crucial goal early in the second half against Villarreal, felt Liverpool’s return to Spain underlined his strong mentality.

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Neil Mellor reflects on Liverpool’s 5-2 aggregate win over Villarreal which sees them reach their third Champions League final in five years.

“It was difficult in the first half, but then we went to the locker room. The gaffer spoke and we spoke to each other as well.

“It shows character and personality in the dressing room. It shows that we are a top team. That’s why we can fight back after losing 2-0 in the first half. I think that makes the win more exciting.”

Asked if he was motivated by the possibility of winning the Quadruple, he added: “Of course. Maybe not at the start of the season because my focus is always on the Premier League and the Champions League but now we’re close for everything, so why not?”

And after?

Liverpool’s busy schedule continues as they host Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday at 7.45pm knowing they can’t afford to slip up if they are to catch up with Manchester City.

The Champions League final will take place on May 28 at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis in Paris, against Real Madrid or Manchester City.

Liverpool match schedule:

May 7 – Tottenham (H) premier league

May 10 Villa Aston (A) premier leaguelive on Sky Sports

May 14 – FA Cup Final vs. chelsea

May 17 – Southampton (A) premier league

May 22 – Wolves (H) premier league

May 28 – Champions League final

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