Liverpool out to complete Hoffenheim mission

Liverpool heads into its second-leg Champions League play-off clash against Hoffenheim with a 2-1 lead, looking to reach the group stage for the first time in three years.

Trent Alexander-Arnold's free-kick (in pic) and a second-half own goal handed the Reds a commanding advantage in Germany, but Mark Uth's late strike provided Hoffenheim with a glimmer of hope ahead of the return at Anfield.   -  AP

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool will attempt to clinch its place in the lucrative Champions League group stage this week as it takes a 2-1 lead into its second leg play-off against Hoffenheim.

Klopp feels heat as Liverpool eyes group phase

Trent Alexander-Arnold's free-kick and a second-half own goal handed the Reds a commanding advantage in Germany, but Mark Uth's late strike provided Hoffenheim with a glimmer of hope ahead of the return at Anfield.

Klopp rotated his squad for Saturday's 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace in the Premier League, making five changes to the team with Wednesday's European encounter weighing heavily on his mind.

It is three years since the Anfield outfit – five times European champion – last graced the group stage of the continent's elite club competition.

"The performance and the result were not perfect, far from it. We still have much to do in this tie," said Klopp.

The club has also rejected a third bid from Barcelona for star play-maker Philippe Coutinho, turning down a reported offer worth around €124.7 million.

The 25-year-old Brazilian has submitted a transfer request, but Liverpool has publicly stated Coutinho, currently sidelined by a back problem, is not for sale at any price.

Hoffenheim started the new Bundesliga campaign with a 1-0 victory at home to Werder Bremen, and Germany midfielder Kerem Demirbay still harbours hope of stunning Liverpool in the second leg.

"We could achieve something extraordinary there. We could turn it around. We will give everything to do that," said Demirbay, who was part of Germany's Confederations Cup-winning side in Russia.