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Jurgen Klopp explains controversial Liverpool decision and admits one star not ‘on top level’

Jurgen Klopp reveals why Darwin Nunez was substituted in Liverpool’s Champions League loss to Real Madrid.

Jurgen Klopp was magnanimous in defeat as Liverpool’s Champions League campaign was brought to an end.


The Reds exited Europe’s elite club competition with a 6-2 loss to Real Madrid in the last 16. A 5-2 defeat in the first leg at Anfield meant Liverpool had a virtually impossible task heading into the return clash at the Santiago Bernabeu.


Klopp’s men created a dearth of goalscoring chances in their bid to reduce a three-goal deficit before Karim Benzema’s 78th-minute strike made Madrid’s victory more emphatic.

Speaking at his post-match press conference, Klopp admitted that Real fully deserved to move into the quarter-finals. The Reds manager said: “We came here with the backpack we had with the three goals difference. You need a special performance and we didn’t show a special performance tonight. It was, in moments, a good performance, but Real Madrid was, for the whole game, the team in control of the game.


“They had the better chances, Ali [Alisson Becker] had to make two sensational saves to keep us in the game and that’s the reason. Again, if you want to go through you need to be outstanding; if you want to win the game, you need to be really good. In the end, Madrid were the better team and that’s why the right team went through to the next round.”

Klopp made a double substitution in the 57th minute when he brought off Darwin Nunez and Diogo Jota for Roberto Firmino and Harvey Elliott. The withdrawal of Nunez, in particular, has been scrutinised by supporters with Liverpool in desperate need of goals.


On his decision, Klopp said: “For Diogo, it was clear that he should not play now extremely long because he is still coming back from a long, long injury. You could see the game got harder and harder for him, little fouls there, one, two, three, he is not a player who is usually fouling so perhaps he comes a bit late. So, no risk with him and we have options on the bench.


“Yes, Darwin looked like he was not on the absolute top level as well and then we need to defend that side as well because conceding a goal is not helpful in that situation. Yeah, we can change there, that’s why we did it. We wanted to mix it a little bit, that’s true.”

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