Jurgen Klopp praised his team for a much improved performance in their 2-1 win over Ajax on Tuesday
Jurgen Klopp admits Liverpool were unrecognisable from the team that lost to Napoli after they dragged their Champions League campaign back on track in dramatic fashion.
Joel Matip headed an 89th-minute winner as the Reds earned a narrow 2-1 triumph over Ajax in their Group A clash at Anfield on Tuesday evening.
Mohamed Salah had earlier seen his opener cancelled out by Mohammed Kudus’s first-half equaliser before Liverpool dominated the second half in attempting to bounce back from last week’s dreadful 4-1 reverse in Italy.
And when asked what improvement he saw from his players, Klopp said: “A lot. I think if we put the two games, Napoli and tonight, next to each other, you don’t recognise properly that it’s the same sport.
It was all different. The start was different. The middle was different. The finish was different. The way we played, the way we defend, everything was different. Much higher intensity, much more aggression, braver, more ready, everything was better.
“It’s the first step, nothing else, not more.”
Liverpool were rewarded for their constant pressure with Matip’s goal – his third in his last six starts – having racked up 24 shots compared to just three from Ajax.
And Klopp was delighted the persistence and character of his team was rewarded with only a fourth win of the campaign.
It is the most important thing,” said the Reds boss. “It would be crazy, but nobody gets carried away tonight. It’s not like the boys are sat in the dressing room and cannot get their arms down.
It’s more relief, we showed us and the outside world that we understood. The boys really reacted and I like that a lot, it was a super intense game.
“That’s how it is in life, when you have a problem and you want to sort it, you want to sort it immediately, put a bigger shift in and work harder again and you get everything immediately back. But it’s not like this.”
Klopp added: “The whole story of the game is a real help. I don’t think we need it given there’s a two-and-a-half week break until we play again, which is strange.