Jurgen Klopp said Liverpool deserve to be in the Champions League quarter-finals despite some “slapstick” finishing as they were beaten by Inter Milan in the second leg of their last-16 tie at Anfield.
An outstanding finish by Lautaro Martinez was not enough for the Italian champions as the late goals by Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah in the first leg in Milan three weeks ago proved decisive.
“The art of football is to lose the right games,” said manager Klopp after Liverpool’s seven-match winning run in Europe this season came to a disappointing end.
“I still hate it, but if there was any game we could have afforded to lose it was this one because the main target of this competition is to get through.
“It’s not that I am over the moon – I’m really happy we went through, because when we saw the draw it was ‘OK, that’s a tough one’. But we went through over two legs and I think we deserved it.
“It’s a big ‘if’ but if we had used our chances from set-pieces and other situations – it was a bit slapstick how we missed the chances – in the end we could still have won the game.
“But the only thing I’m interested in is that it is fair we are through.”
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Martinez gave Alisson no chance with an arrowed finish from 20 yards in the 61st minute.
But Inter’s hopes of forcing extra time with a second goal faded when former Arsenal and Manchester United forward Alexis Sanchez was sent off just two minutes later for a second yellow card.
Liverpool hit the woodwork three times in a bad-tempered game which, in addition to Sanchez’s red card, saw six other players booked.
After Joel Matip headed against the bar, Salah struck the post twice in front of the Kop.
The draw for the last eight takes place on 18 March in Nyon, Switzerland.
The game was also stopped for a few minutes in the first half due to a medical emergency in the crowd.
Relief as Reds progress
There was a sense of relief around Anfield at full-time after Liverpool suffered a scare before booking their place in the last eight.
The Reds were far from their best, but looked in control of the tie until Martinez’s excellent strike, and Sanchez’s dismissal then gave the hosts fresh momentum.
A first defeat of 2022, after a terrific run in which they have delivered a trophy with the EFL Cup, will serve as a reminder to Klopp that there is still work to do if they are to end the season with more success.
Having scored 109 goals in their previous 43 games, this was a rare occasion they failed to find the net.
Liverpool did everything but score, though, as they rattled the bar and post, while substitute Luis Diaz was denied at point-blank range in the dying stages by Arturo Vidal’s block.
One positive for Klopp was the performance of Trent Alexander-Arnold, who seems to get better and better the longer the season goes on.
He was at the heart of all his side’s best moves and went close to scoring from a free-kick at the end of the first half.
First home defeat for a year
This defeat came almost a year to the day since Liverpool’s last defeat at Anfield.
Mario Lemina scored the only goal to give relegation-threatened Fulham a surprise away win on 7 March 2021.
Liverpool had gone 28 games unbeaten at home – winning 21 and drawing seven – before Inter’s first victory over the Reds since 1965.
Despite the loss, Klopp’s men have now reached the Champions League quarter-final stage for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
Player of the match
with an average of 7.32
Squad number66Player nameAlexander-Arnold
Squad number4Player namevan Dijk
Squad number26Player nameRobertson
Squad number1Player nameAlisson
Squad number3Player nameFabinho
Squad number11Player nameMohamed Salah
Squad number32Player nameMatip
Squad number6Player nameThiago Alcántara
Squad number17Player nameJones
Squad number10Player nameMané
Squad number23Player nameDíaz
Squad number14Player nameHenderson
Squad number20Player nameDiogo Jota
Squad number8Player nameKeïta
Squad number22Player nameVidal
Squad number10Player nameMartínez
Squad number14Player namePerisic
Squad number77Player nameBrozovic
Squad number5Player nameGagliardini
Squad number19Player nameCorrea
Squad number36Player nameDarmian
Squad number8Player nameVecino
Squad number37Player nameSkriniar
Squad number20Player nameCalhanoglu
Squad number6Player namede Vrij
Squad number33Player nameD’Ambrosio
Squad number95Player nameBastoni
Squad number1Player nameHandanovic
Squad number2Player nameDumfries
Squad number7Player nameSánchez
- 4van Dijk
- 26RobertsonBooked at 47mins
- 17JonesSubstituted forKeïtaat 65′minutes
- 6Thiago AlcántaraSubstituted forHendersonat 65′minutes
- 20JotaBooked at 40minsSubstituted forDíazat 83′minutes
- 10ManéBooked at 70mins
- 6de VrijSubstituted forD’Ambrosioat 45′minutes
- 95BastoniBooked at 85mins
- 2DumfriesSubstituted forDarmianat 75′minutes
- 22VidalBooked at 45mins
- 77BrozovicSubstituted forGagliardiniat 75′minutesBooked at 90mins
- 20CalhanogluSubstituted forVecinoat 83′minutes
- 10MartínezSubstituted forCorreaat 75′minutes
- 7SánchezBooked at 63mins
- Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz
Match ends, Liverpool 0, Inter Milan 1.
Second Half ends, Liverpool 0, Inter Milan 1.
Foul by Joel Matip (Liverpool).
Joaquín Correa (Inter Milan) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Roberto Gagliardini (Inter Milan) is shown the yellow card.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Dangerous play by Roberto Gagliardini (Inter Milan).
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Arturo Vidal.
Attempt blocked. Luis Díaz (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Offside, Inter Milan. Roberto Gagliardini tries a through ball, but Matteo Darmian is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right following a corner.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Matías Vecino.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Milan Skriniar.
Attempt missed. Sadio Mané (Liverpool) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Trent Alexander-Arnold with a cross following a set piece situation.
Alessandro Bastoni (Inter Milan) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Alessandro Bastoni (Inter Milan).
Substitution, Inter Milan. Matías Vecino replaces Hakan Calhanoglu.
Substitution, Liverpool. Luis Díaz replaces Diogo Jota.
Dangerous play by Jordan Henderson (Liverpool).
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