Jürgen Klopp analysed an 'absolutely deserved' result and explained why Lucas Leiva was chosen at centre-back after the 1-0 victory over Augsburg in the Europa League.
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The Reds booked their place in the last 16 and Friday’s draw for the next round with the win at Anfield, secured through a penalty from James Milner after just five minutes of the second leg.
Klopp said at his post-match press conference: “Over 70 minutes we were that good that we couldn’t see their plan. Then at the end they had the long balls and could change [Raul] Bobadilla and a few other players, strikers.
“The free-kicks were the biggest challenge for us. But it was a really good game and it was absolutely deserved; everybody who saw the game would have to say we deserved to win and were the better team and created chances.
“We only had one problem – we didn’t use them and score often enough. That’s how football is sometimes. For us, it’s still a long way and the only problem was we couldn’t control the game in the last 20 minutes.
“But now, after the game, with a 1-0, I am completely fine. As far as I know, there are no injuries. It was hard, that’s how it should be, and now we are in the next round – well deserved.”
He added: “It was a very tough game and they showed their determination to play and also made it difficult for us to play against them.
“They took risks and defended very well. If you look at it overall and the work Markus [Weinzierl] has done, he has got a great team and done really well – particularly given the injuries they’ve had.
“But it’s less important what we think about them, I think it’s important for FC Augsburg to feel very proud tonight.”
Klopp made a single change to the line-up that started the first leg in Germany last week, with Lucas replacing Kolo Toure alongside Mamadou Sakho in central defence.
The manager explained the thinking behind that decision and praised the Brazilian’s performance in helping Liverpool record a third successive clean sheet.
“I knew we had to play more football from the last line; Kolo has a lot of quality and skills but the first one is not that he always wants to play,” he said.
“Against deep defending we needed in nearly all positions a player who wants to play a pass. Not the last pass from the last line but with passing skills. That was one thing.
“The other thing was that Kolo did really well and played great for us but has a lot of games now in his legs. Lucas was waiting and everybody could see he played this role really well.
“I’m really pleased for him. It’s not too easy for Lucas when he doesn’t play, he’s a different person! Everything is OK but it’s not easy for him to enjoy life when he’s not playing. So he deserved this game and I’m really pleased for him.”
Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge joined forces from the start yet again and though none were on the scoresheet despite their best efforts, the trio combined to good effect throughout.
Klopp spoke before the game about returning players finding rhythm by featuring in as many games as feasible, and reiterated post-match why that philosophy is working.
The boss said: “That’s important, that’s what every player would tell you. You need to know you can carry on in a situation where it’s a little bit harder.
“Phil had one or two situations after challenges where he felt this or this, but always when you ask him [he says he is fine]. We need to find new faith or trust in the body of the players.
“We are all like this – ‘oh my God, what happened?’ Nothing, it’s only normal in football that you have a few situations like this. That was really great.
“They [Coutinho and Sturridge] are both very important for us but we need them in best shape. You can only get this shape through training and matches.”
Next up for the Reds, of course, is the weekend trip to Wembley for the Capital One Cup final against Manchester City.
And Klopp was asked if the win over Augsburg would have any impact on the squad in the build-up to Sunday’s showpiece match.
“It’s better than if we’d had a defeat and been knocked out,” he replied.
“Tonight’s game is different and not relevant to Sunday, but obviously the team has benefited from a good performance and gained confidence, although you could say the same for Manchester City in Kiev last night. We’ll try our hardest to produce a good performance on Sunday.”