While Liverpool had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa that all but doused their hopes for a Champions League berth, manager Juergen Klopp said considering where his squad was a few weeks ago, he was satisfied with the result.
“It’s a draw and that’s okay, that’s okay,” Klopp told a press conference.
Liverpool looked for much of the season to be destined for the Europa League rather than the Champions League anyway, he added. But his team arrived at Anfield on Saturday having won seven in a row for a late charge at the top four.
“We were too long not good enough ourselves,” the German manager said, summing up the season. “And I think we made it pretty exciting. I didn’t think that was possible seven weeks ago. The boys did really well in that period.
“I think people enjoyed it as well, you could see today they are not angry with us. They are looking forward to a new Premier League season and the European league season. So do I.”
Jacob Ramsey gave Villa the lead in the first half and they were able to keep the hosts at bay for most of the match.
However, the Anfield crowd exploded when Brazilian Roberto Firmino came off the bench to score a dramatic equaliser in the 89th minute in his final home appearance for Liverpool after eight trophy-laden seasons.
Firmino, Naby Keita, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all leaving Liverpool when their contracts expire, making for an emotional afternoon, said Klopp, adding that he will miss their contributions on and off the field.
“I know (Firmino’s) kids, I’ve known them all since they were babies,” he said. “Same for (Milner). The two boys who came on showed immediately what we will miss.
“It’s Millie’s mentality... he played really good football here and today again, but the way he comes in again... whoever will do that for us in the next few years, that is a high, high bar, because how many games he won for us in this way is insane.
“This day was not easy for us. No excuses for anything, because we all love these four boys, but it’s hard to prepare a little bit. But at the same time, there is a super important game, and for this part of the day, the first half was not great.”
Klopp had to watch the afternoon’s drama unfold from the stands while serving the first of a two-game suspension for criticizing the officials.
Liverpool’s chances at the Champions League are all but gone. It needs to win their final game at Southampton, and have to hope Manchester United nor Newcastle take a point from either of the two games they each have left.
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