Liverpool got their Champions League group campaign off to a winning start in dramatic fashion. Despite dominating the first half and taking the lead, they found themselves 2-1 down at half-time. But they reversed the deficit after the break and had Jordan Henderson to thank for a brilliant strike to win it.
An own goal, inspired by Trent Alexander-Arnold’s positivity, had earlier put them in front, before Mohamed Salah missed a penalty. They were made to pay when Ante Rebic and Brahim Diaz turned the game on its head, only for Salah to make amends with an equaliser and Henderson to steal the headlines with the winner.
It was the result they deserved, although the circumstances in which they achieved it were certainly draining. Still, the 2019 winners will be hoping to use it as the foundations for a positive group phase.
After overcoming such a challenge, Klopp was impressed with his side’s performance.
Klopp said: “We started incredibly well. We played a super, super game. An intense game but football wise as well.
“We played in all the spaces we had to play and didn’t give them anything until… I’m not sure exactly. We got punished for it in the last few minutes of the first half but it started earlier. We got carried away by our own football. We didn’t keep it simple anymore, offensively and defensively we were not organised anymore.
“When we are organised, Fabinho is incredible and he can pick up all the challenges we need him for. When the spaces are too big even he cannot solve it anymore.
“They played in between and scored two goals. But it did not feel like we cannot come back. It was clear that we had to immediately get back to how we started and then we scored wonderful goals, to be honest. Both were incredible.
“It is deserved but we had 10 minutes where Milan nearly changed the whole tie.
“It is the football I want to see in most moments. We are experienced in the competition, or should be. It was a little bit the changes as well that we just weren’t compact anymore. Now we won I can say that the changes was the right thing to do because playing every three days is just not possible with the same guys. The guys who came on did incredibly well.”
Klopp surprised at lack of Origi interest
One of the players who benefited from Klopp’s rotation was Divock Origi, making his first appearance of the season.
A Champions League hero in previous years, it had seemed this summer might have been the one in which he left. Ultimately, though, no offers came in worth accepting.
Origi thus took his chance to impress until having to go off due to fatigue. His performance – which included the assist for Salah’s goal – left Klopp baffled as to why there wasn’t more interest in him over the summer.
The manager said: “Divock played a superb game. He had cramps which is normal. But people forget how good he is.
“It is difficult to get him in this team. We all thought in the summer offers would come but clearly people do not watch football enough.”
Overall, Liverpool dealt well with a tough challenge against the lowest seed in the group. Given their quality and pedigree, it only made Klopp remember just how tough their pool is.
He said: “That is our pick from pot four. AC Milan in a really good moment. It is a tough group.
“That is why it is important we won this game. It does not decide anything but it gave us a winning start.”