Mark Lawrenson has defended Liverpool regarding the notion that Jurgen Klopp and his players have ‘run out of gas’ in recent weeks following the club’s exit from the Champions League.
Liverpool’s defence of their European crown came to an abrupt end at Anfield last night as Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid claimed a 3-2 victory to see themselves through to the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time since 2017.
The Reds were originally trailing 1-0 before the second-leg tie following Saul Niguez’s winning-strike at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium three weeks ago.
Georginio Wijnaldum clawed Liverpool back to level peggings after heading home before half-time. The Reds huffed and puffed looking for that crucial second goal in normal time but couldn’t blow the Atletico house down that was patrolled by the impenetrable Jan Oblak.
Roberto Firmino eventually scored four minutes into extra-time to claim his first Anfield goal of the season and put Liverpool in the ascendancy for the first time in 184 minutes of this enthralling Champions League tie.
However, substitute Marcos Llorente came off the bench to capitalise on a catastrophic error from Adrian to turn the tie on it’s head with a brace. Alvaro Morata then completed the victory after firing home with practically the last kick of the game.
Liverpool may have suffered their first European exit under Klopp but their performance last night was the best display we have seen over the past couple of months.
Following the defeat, Lawrenson was quick to come to the defence of his former team to eradicate any ideas that Liverpool are suffering from burnout following four defeats in their previous six matches.
Speaking in his BBC Sport column, he said: “The suggestion that Liverpool’s sequence of poor results is because they have run out of gas does not stack up when you look at their performance against Atletico Madrid.
“Yes, Atletico knocked the Reds out of the Champions League on Wednesday but I was at Anfield and that was probably the best that Jurgen Klopp’s side have played in the past couple of months.
“With the way they took the game to Atletico, I did not see a team who have run out of anything – energy, ideas or belief.”
What RTK has to say
Lawrenson is absolutely bang on the money here.
Liverpool absolutely battered and bloodied Atletico for 90 minutes and just lacked that crucial knockout punch.
Klopp’s team delivered the intensity and physicality they have been lacking in recent weeks to take this Champions League contest right to the very wire.
This performance showed us that Liverpool still have so much more to give from now until the end of the season.
Although the Champions League exit wounds are still raw and will take time to heal, the reality now is that we can enjoy every match from now until the inevitable is mathematically confirmed and Liverpool can parade themselves as the undisputed kings of England.