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Klopp salutes Liverpool as ‘best ever’ display seals FA Cup final place

Klopp salutes Liverpool as ‘best ever’ display seals FA Cup final place

FOOTBALL: Jurgen Klopp hailed one of Liverpool’s “best ever” performances as the quadruple chasers reached the FA Cup final with a “special” 3-2 win against Manchester City yesterday (Apr 16).

FootballFA-CupPremier-League
By AFP

Sunday 17 April 2022, 11:34AM


Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates at the full-time whistle after his team defeated Manchester City 3-2 in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley yesterday (Apr 16). Photo: AFP

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates at the full-time whistle after his team defeated Manchester City 3-2 in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley yesterday (Apr 16). Photo: AFP

Klopp’s side kept alive their bid to win all four major trophies in a single seasons thanks to Ibrahima Konate’s opener and Sadio Mane’s double at Wembley.

Liverpool were three goals up by half-time as they tore City apart with a scintillating display that Klopp rated among the very finest of his reign.

City hit back with second half goals from Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Reds reaching their first FA Cup final since 2012.

“Absolutely proud, incredible. The first half was one of the best we ever played. We did all the right stuff, we scored in the right moments. We were outstanding. I loved each second of it,” Klopp said.

“The second half started with the goal for Man City and then it opens up. The quality of City is insane.

“We respect City so much and it’s so difficult to win against them. But because we have these boys in our dressing room we have a chance.”

Liverpool are embroiled in a fierce title fight with City, who are one point clear of Klopp’s men at the top of the Premier League with seven games left.

They shared a pulsating 2-2 draw in Manchester in the league last weekend, and could still meet in the Champions League final.

Asked if their FA Cup semi-final success could be the springboard to pip City in both the Premier League and Champions League, Klopp said: “It’s not a statement, we are just in the final.

“I think City knew beforehand that it could be difficult against us, that’s how it has been between us most of the time.”

While Liverpool are a step closer to football immortality, Klopp insists the fixture congestion caused by their progress to another final will make the quadruple harder to achieve.

Special moment’

“The quadruple talk I can’t believe it. Qualifying for this final makes the quadruple even more difficult,” he said.

“I don’t think we have a full free week before the last matchday. But we beat the strongest team in the world and that’s a pretty special moment.”

There is no rest for Liverpool in their trophy chase as they host Manchester United on Tuesday.

“In three days we play against United, who are fighting for a Champions League place. Historically it is not a friendly game,” he said.

“Then we play Everton, with the situation they are in it will not be a friendly game. It (the quadruple) is just incredibly unlikely but let’s go for it.”

Pep Guardiola’s decision to field a weakened team will be second-guessed, but City’s manager is adamant he was right to leave Kevin De Bruyne on the bench after the Belgian needed stitches in a foot injury.

With City’s treble bid over, Guardiola has to revive his fatigued players quickly if they are to hold off Liverpool in the Premier League and beat Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals.

“I have a lot of confidence in my players and the selection. We had a terrible time in terms of fixtures and travel. That’s why we need the fresh legs,” he said.

“The first half we were so passive. We were scared to support our team-mates. In the second half we showed incredible pride when you talk about being tired. We had chances for extra-time.

“We tried to put energy in the players, but sometimes it happens. It is Liverpool.”

Guardiola refused to blame Zack Steffen for City’s defeat as the American keeper’s mistake led to Mane scoring Liverpool’s second goal.

“It was an accident. Ederson was close (to doing it) in the other game. The way we use our keepers, the way we move them around, I would say the averages, it can happen,” he said.

“We have four days until the next game (against Brighton). We have to recover well for the two competitions we are in.”

Ronaldo hat-trick saves Man Utd as Spurs, Arsenal slump to defeat

Elsewhere, in the Premier League Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick as Manchester United claimed a 3-2 win over Norwich to take advantage of defeats for Arsenal and Tottenham in the race for a place in next season’s Champions League.

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Spurs’ winning run was brought to an abrupt halt by a 1-0 home defeat by Brighton, while the Gunners were beaten 1-0 at Southampton to slump to a third consecutive loss.

Ronaldo’s 50th club hat-trick tempered a revolt among the fanbase at Old Trafford as United move above Arsenal into fifth on goal difference, three points behind Tottenham.

There was unrest among the United fans before the game even began as many did not come into the stadium until the 17th minute to protest against the 17 years of the Glazer family’s ownership of the club.

Those late to take their seats missed Ronaldo’s first goal of the afternoon as he swept home Anthony Elanga’s cross.

The 37-year-old then powered home Alex Telles’ corner for his 20th goal of the season despite United’s struggles.

However, the Red Devils’ defensive problems were laid bare by the bottom-of-the-table Canaries who had scored just 20 goals in their previous 31 league games.

Kieran Dowell halved the arrears in first-half stoppage time before Teemu Pukki levelled seven minutes into the second half.

David de Gea then had to produce a brilliant save to deny Pukki completing the comeback.

United players were then met with chants of “you’re not fit to wear the shirt”, with Paul Pogba singled out for abuse when he was substituted.

But Ronaldo had the final say when his free-kick flew through the grasp of Tim Krul 14 minutes from time to set up a huge week for United.

Ralf Rangnick’s men face a daunting trip to Liverpool on Tuesday before facing Arsenal next weekend.

“Ronaldo has scored three very important goals for us,” said De Gea.

“We know we aren’t playing very well but we got three points. We should control the game more against Norwich at home.”

North London nightmare

Brighton halted Tottenham’s charge towards the Champions League as Leandro Trossard struck a 90th minute winner.

But Antonio Conte’s men were bailed out by another defeat for Arsenal as they failed to close the gap against a Southampton side that had been thrashed 6-0 by Chelsea last weekend.

Brighton were Arsenal’s conquerors last time out to snap a seven-game winless run.

With confidence restored, the Seagulls looked more like their old selves under Graham Potter as they controlled the game and completed a north London double thanks to Trossard’s composed finish in the final minute.

“Today we did everything too slow,” said Conte. “It was not a good game for us.

“When you can’t win, you should not lose and that is a lesson for us today. When it is not your day, you have to pay more attention and not lose.”

Arsenal’s lack of a top striker proved their downfall at St. Mary’s as Fraser Forster produced a string of fine saves to leave Mikel Arteta’s men frustrated.

Southampton took their chance when it came as defender Jan Bednarek swept high past Aaron Ramsdale just before half-time.

“We had so much possession, we created situations but the end product was not good,” said Arteta.

“You have to score goals to win games. What else can I say? The boys played the way they have to play but in the box is where things are defined.”

At the bottom of the table, Watford look set to return to the Championship after Brentford inflicted their 10th successive home league defeat.

Pontus Jansson scored the winner deep into stoppage time for the Bees after Emmanuel Dennis had cancelled out Christian Norgaard’s opener.

Second-from-bottom Watford remain six points adrift of safety with six games left to play.

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