Jürgen Klopp praises ‘thunderstorm’ after seeing Liverpool rejoin elite

• Manager says Champions League qualification means everything
• German believes result could help with player recruitment

Jürgen Klopp said Champions League qualification meant everything to Liverpool as he celebrated the “thunderstorm” that swept aside Hoffenheim in the play-off second leg at Anfield.

Liverpool secured their return to the European elite, and a fifth place for a Premier League team in this season’s competition, with three goals in the opening 21 minutes against Julian Nagelsmann’s adventurous but exposed side. Goals from Emre Can (2), Mohamed Salah and the outstanding Roberto Firmino gave Liverpool a 6-3 aggregate win with Klopp claiming his team’s start to the game took Hoffenheim completely by surprise.

“The start of the game was like a thunderstorm,” the Liverpool manager said. “If you win away 2-1 in the first leg the opponent can imagine that you will sit back and wait to counter attack in the second leg. We thought it would make sense to do it differently, with high pressure. We did it really well. The football we played was really fantastic. Usually after 3-0 that early it’s normal that there is a little break. I don’t like it but it’s normal.

“Nagelsmann brought on another striker, took off a centre-back. That’s already brave. They could have conceded more goals. We also had one or two situations. This game was crazy, it could have ended 9-7 but even then we would have been in the group stage so it was deserved.”

Asked what it meant to compete in the lucrative group stage of Europe’s premier competition, Klopp replied: “Yippee! It means everything. It’s what we worked for in the last 14 months. We wanted to be a part of the Champions League with all we have and I thought the boys played a few pieces of outstanding football. Against an opponent like Hoffenheim you always have a few problems, that’s how it is, but I’m really happy about the deserved qualification for the group stages.”

Klopp believes a regular place in the Champions League will help Liverpool land their top transfer targets and, pointedly amid the Philippe Coutinho saga, keep their best players at the club.

“If you talk to a player they say: ‘If you play Champions League it would be really interesting.’ Even if you try to extend a contract with a player in the squad, they say: ‘I want to play Champions League’. I always think: ‘WTF, it’s your job to do it with us together.’ Do it with us together. That’s what this team did and that’s why I’m so pleased. Fourteen months’ hard work and we did it. Nice.”

Contributor

Andy Hunter at Anfield

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