SEVILLA 3 – LIVERPOOL 3 REDS LOSE OUT OF UCL QUALIFICATION
As a writer for Liverpool on Yougetmouth i demand an explanation for Last night from Jurgen Klopp. After battering Maribor by seven goals, we looked certain to deliver an even more spectacular away win in Europe.
Due to a blistering opening 30 minutes, the Reds were 3-0 up and coasting into the knockout stages for the first time since 2009.
Sevilla had not lost a home game in a year to the very day but they were getting torn apart.
Yet incredibly, although maybe not surprisingly, the team which can scores goals at will is still a bit of a mess at the back.
Despite Sevilla scoring twice in the second half, Liverpool were holding out — just — before they conceded three minutes into injury time.
The final home game against Spartak Moscow is no longer a dead rubber. Jurgen Klopp watched with a mixture of pride and disbelief as his team tore into Sevilla in a stunning opening half hour before somehow ending up with a draw.
This remarkable — and at times comical match — complete with a bully ballboy — was not without some major stress and drama as we were guilty of making the same old mistakes.
Because until that dramatic final moment, when Guido Pizarro scored from close range, it looked as though the first half double from Roberto Firmino and a strike from Sadio Mane was enough.
Equally, the Kop side have keeper Loris Karius to thank for making two outstanding saves at crucial times in either half.
On both occasions he was also grateful to the woodwork for coming to the rescue.
On a night which saw all the pre-match talk about Sevilla’s fine record here, they were taken apart by some fine Liverpool finishing.
For Klopp, this latest result was further proof that the team has improved its confidence from the 4-1 thrashing by Spurs at Wembley.
Equally, though, this second period was also a reminded that the team remains far too open at the back and Chelsea at home on Saturday evening will be a major test.
Klopp will not find Antonio Conte’s defence quite so hospitable compared to La Liga’s fifth-placed team.
Despite his team brimming with confidence offensively, at no stage in his wildest dreams could Klopp have expected such a stunning start, scoring after just 88 seconds.
Philippe Coutinho delivered a near-post corner and Gini Wijnaldum got between skipper Sergio Escudero and former Manchester City forward Nolito to flick the ball over.
Bizarrely, Sevilla did not bother to cover the far post and Firmino was unmarked to steer the ball underneath keeper Sergio Rico’s right arm.
Fresh from his England debut, Joe Gomez was grounded by some trickery from Nolito who switched the ball to his right foot although he was denied by that outstanding save onto the post from Karius. Gomez then found himself being bullied by a ballboy with Klopp being forced to intervene.
Gomez went to take a throw but had the ball shoved into his chest by the youngster, with Klopp jumping away from his dugout to remonstrate.
Then all the locals started to get hot under the collar as their team completely fell apart.
Firmino raced clear and while his effort was saved by Rico, Sevilla made the same mistake from the resulting corner.
Coutinho delivered the ball into a slightly deeper area Firmino flicked on and Mane scored with a brilliant diving header.
Mane caused more mayhem as he chased a long ball from Moreno and while the effort was saved Firmino was unmarked — yet again — to score an easy chance.
Rico stopped Mo Salah from making it 4-0 — and it was a completely different contest in the second half.
Ever Banega’s near-post free-kick was glanced in by Wissam Ben Yedder, who beat Moreno to the ball.
The Reds’ left-back then conceded a penalty, catching Ben Yedder, and while the home striker had to retake his spot-kick, he sent Karius the wrong way for a second time.
Karius made another important save as he pushed an effort from Escudero onto the bar. Liverpool made hard work for themselves and with victory in sight Ragnar Klavan failed to clear right at the death from a corner.
The ball fell for Pizarro to score and complete one of the best games in Europe this season.
Whether Klopp’s team actually win anything remains to be seen — yet this was another reminder that at a time when some Premier League teams are delivering boring football, Liverpool are not one of them.