Jürgen Klopp paid tribute to Daniel Sturridge for helping to decide the Merseyside derby in stoppage time after an inadequate amount of preparation. The substitute’s shot came back off Joel Robles and a post to allow Sadio Mané to snatch a late winner, and the Liverpool manager admitted it was difficult to know when to send Sturridge on when the game was so intense and he had completed only a couple of training sessions.
“When you have Daniel on the bench you are always thinking about when is the right time to bring him on,” Klopp said. “It is an unusual situation but at the same time a good option when you can bring on his fresh legs when the game is so tight. He helped us a lot tonight in a difficult game.”
Everton’s manager, Ronald Koeman, acknowledged that Liverpool’s late substitutions had made a difference, bemoaning his own luck in having to make two enforced substitutions relatively early in the game, the second a goalkeeper.
“We lost James McCarthy and then Maarten Stekelenburg, so when you then have to endure eight minutes of added time it makes it difficult,” Koeman said. “It was a cruel way to lose, the fans and the players did not deserve a defeat tonight but we have to accept it. I can’t complain about the efforts of my players, maybe we just needed to be more lucky. It was a tough game for both, Liverpool were more comfortable in the second half but they did not create open chances. They had more possession then, showed some good movement. They are some team.”
Liverpool did create more chances than their opponents, however, and Divock Origi and Roberto Firmino failed to accept a couple of good ones either side of the interval. “We had our moments,” Klopp said. “We could have been ahead before added time but the main thing in a match like this is not to give too many chances away and we didn’t. Of course it was not the best football in the world but you have to take it like it is. We stayed cool in the first half and improved in the second.”
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson agreed with his manager. “It was a bit hectic at first but we were expecting that and I thought we dealt with it very well,” he said. “We kept our heads and we dominated the game afterwards.”
Henderson was involved in one of the game’s moments of controversy in the second half when a terrible attempt at a tackle by Ross Barkley left him writhing in agony clutching his ankle. The Everton midfielder was booked for the challenge and many thought he deserved to see a red card, yet Henderson was prepared to be generous. “We shook hands after the final whistle and Ross apologised straight away,” he said. “Thankfully I am all right. I think it was just mistimed rather than malicious. I know Ross very well. He’s a mate actually and he’s a good lad. I don’t think he would do something like that on purpose.”
Seamus Coleman was booked in the brief melee that followed that incident but Koeman pointed out that Dejan Lovren had also reacted angrily but escaped without punishment. “The two players were in the same reaction but only one received yellow,” the Everton manager said. “I don’t think that was a fair punishment, and Lovren was already on a booking. If he had collected a second yellow the outcome might have been different.”
Klopp said he was relieved to keep a second successive clean sheet and come through the game with no injuries, though he admitted to being concerned about Henderson. “You all saw it, I don’t have to say anything much,” the Liverpool manager said. “I thought Ross was lucky.”