LIVERPOOL: Liverpool are used to making life difficult for themselves, admitted Jurgen Klopp as a 1-1 draw with Napoli leaves the European champions with work to do to reach the Champions League last 16.
Klopp’s men must avoid defeat away to Salzburg on December 10 to secure their passage into the knockout stages.
Dries Mertens threatened to inflict Liverpool’s first home defeat in the Champions or Premier League since April 2017 with a sweetly struck opener midway through the first half.
Dejan Lovren’s header protected that proud unbeaten run, but after a host of late winners in the Premier League this season there was no such joy for the hosts this time round.
“Our way was always the hard one,” said Klopp.
“We have to go to Salzburg. If we had done it (qualified) tonight we would’ve tried to win there and we will do the same now.”
Napoli remains a point behind Liverpool, but are well-placed to reach the knockout stages as they host winless Genk in two weeks’ time.
“It’s not easy to get a draw here. We suffered under pressure and began to defend too deep, but there’s no other way to emerge alive from Anfield,” said Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti.
The Italians had traveled to Merseyside in disarray with Ancelotti seemingly on the brink of being sacked after a slump in Serie A.
President Aurelio De Laurentiis has also threatened to sell the entire squad and take legal action against the players after they refused his orders to be confined to a week-long training camp earlier this month.
However, the Italians are the only side to have beaten the European champions this season and proved a thorn in Liverpool’s side again.
“This is a healthy club within the locker room and with the desire of everyone to emerge from this difficult moment,” added Ancelotti.
“I spoke to the president, he was very happy with everyone and congratulated us all on the performance.”
Liverpool were unsettled by the early loss of Fabinho to an ankle injury and Klopp is worried that the Brazilian could be sidelined for some time.
“The biggest thing tonight is the Fabinho injury,” added Klopp. “That’s massive, it’s still early and we hope it is not too serious but it is pretty painful.” AFP