Jürgen Klopp says Liverpool played like kids in win over Aston Villa

• Sadio Mané winner was ‘best emotion in football’, says coach
• ‘I didn’t like the first half. We were not like warriors’

Jürgen Klopp said he felt “the best possible emotion in football” when Sadio Mané struck Liverpool’s late winning goal at Aston Villa, but the Liverpool manager criticised his team for inviting defeat by being “too playful” in the first half.

Liverpool fell behind to a goal by Trézéguet in the 21st minute but staged a late rally to win 2-1, preserving their six-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

“We made it more difficult at the start, we started playing football but not exactly like we should have – too playful, like kids,” said Klopp, doing a little mime of children frolicking. “Our football looked good but I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the body language in the first half. We were not like warriors. We were like players.

“Body language is important. Aston Villa was ready for a proper fight, a proper battle, to defend with all they had and find space on the counterattack.”

He continued: “We conceded the goal and now it was getting serious – sometimes you need to get knocks. In the second half we started immediately and were much more aggressive in the right manner.”

From that point on, he said, Liverpool were the only likely winners. “There was only one team who deserved to win it and that was us but I can imagine how bad Aston Villa feels because with all they did today, they would have deserved something.”

Mané said this was Liverpool’s toughest match of the season so far. Klopp reserved particular praise for the Senegal international for performing so well in the second half despite being booed by home fans after being booked for simulation in the first period. “When you see it back it was for sure not diving,” said Klopp. “There was contact.”

Dean Smith declared himself “very pleased” with Villa’s general performance but lamented “a lack of concentration, two basic errors” that allowed Liverpool to score. “I said to the players after the game that I’m really proud of their performance,” said the manager, “but I want them to feel the hurt and take it into the next game because that’s how you improve.”


Paul Doyle at Villa Park

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