Tue, Dec 12, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Angry Klopp defends team selection after derby draw

Reuters, LONDON

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp defended his team selection after Everton snatched a late point in Sunday’s Merseyside derby.

The German made six changes to the starting lineup that crushed Spartak Moscow 7-0 in a midweek Champions League group tie, leaving first-choice Brazilians Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino on the bench for the game at Anfield.

Dominic Solanke made his second league start up front instead.

Liverpool dominated possession and Mohamed Salah swept in a stunning goal just before the break, with the Egyptian then replaced by Firmino in the 67th minute.

Coutinho, who had on Wednesday scored a hat-trick, came on for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 78th minute — one minute after Everton captain Wayne Rooney had leveled from the penalty spot for his first goal in a Merseyside derby.

“That’s my job: That I make decisions before I know they are right,” Klopp said in a prickly interview with Sky Sports. “And afterward it’s your job to say I’m not right, no problem with that.”

“Yes, I was sure this was the right decision. We brought Roberto Firmino on for Mo Salah. We could have scored before, we could have scored afterward, we could have scored all the time. We lived more or less in their box,” he added.

In Klopp’s defense, Liverpool saw their title challenge collapse in January last year with numerous injuries and the manager will want to avoid a similar occurrence with Champions League knockout games to come.

A point from a match that always fires up local passions was hardly a disaster and Liverpool at least continued two fine runs of form.

Klopp’s side are now unbeaten in 10 games in all competitions and stretched their unbeaten run against Everton to a record-equaling 15 games. Everton have not won at Anfield since 1999.

Despite that, the circumstances of the penalty — with Dejan Lovren paying the price for a push on Dominic Calvert-Lewin — left Klopp showing his anger.

“We can stop the interview, because I only want to talk to people who have a little bit of understanding about football. I’m sorry. I’m really... I cannot believe,” Klopp said when told by the reporter that it had looked like a penalty.

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