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Jurgen Klopp: Liverpool win at Leeds was best performance of season

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp felt his side produced their best performance of the season as they ruthlessly took apart struggling Leeds United.

The Reds scored six goals from seven shots on target, with Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota both netting twice.

Klopp’s side have beaten Bournemouth 9-0 and Manchester United 7-0 this season but the German believes the display at Elland Road is their best.

“[I am] really happy about that game,” he told Sky Sports.

“I think we forced a lot of errors, [scored] sensational goals, counter-pressing-wise it was the best for, I want to say, decades. My favourite part was in the 92nd minute – four players chased the poor boy on the ball from Leeds.

“I think it is the best game we played this season, in different aspects.”

Diogo Jota (centre) and Liverpool team-mates celebrate scoring at Leeds
Diogo Jota’s goals were his first since April 2022

It has been a difficult season for Klopp’s side, demonstrated by the fact despite Monday’s resounding win they sit eighth place in the table.

They are in the hunt for European football next season, with seventh place likely to qualify for some involvement – but their hopes of the Champions League are slim.

The win at Leeds was Liverpool’s first victory since the mauling of Manchester United in early March and showed they retain a rare ruthlessness even in this disappointing season.

There was controversy about the opener, with Trent Alexander-Arnold using an arm to block a pass from Junior Firpo – although not illegally according to the on-field and VAR officials – before setting up Cody Gakpo’s opener.

Salah struck the second soon after and while Luis Sinisterra’s goal briefly gave Leeds hope early in the second half, the Reds responded through Jota, Salah and substitute Darwin Nunez.

The win in West Yorkshire came after a much-improved showing against league leaders Arsenal in their previous game, when they came back from 2-0 down to draw despite a missed Salah penalty.

“To play good football you need stability,” added Klopp. “Stability you only get from defending but when you are in this kind of negative flow, if we can use that phrase, then you make wrong decisions.

“You think to play better you have to be foremost concerned with the offensive stuff. We can be super offensive-orientated, if we react in the right moment.

“I can’t explain why our counter-pressing didn’t work [in previous games] but tonight it clicked. It clicked in the second half against Arsenal.

“Tonight I’m not sure how many goals we scored after we won the ball back, but that makes all the difference.

“I think we know that, but there is always a bit of difference from knowing and understanding and really feeling it.”

‘I have no clue if we can get top four’

The Reds have made a late successful push for Champions League football before under Klopp – when they took 26 points from a possible 30 to finish third in 2020-21.

However, Klopp would not be drawn on whether his side can repeat that feat and claim a top-four finish this campaign.

“I think a little bit of a problem between this season and that season is that they [teams above] are a bit further away,” he added.

“Where we end up I don’t know but it will go on after this season, so we need all the games to understand.

“The games are super important. If we can’t get anything this season, then we have to build on good performances from this last part of the season.

“I have no clue if we can get close, but I don’t think it’s too important. I would like to see us with the same desire, the same passion, the same understanding that we showed tonight.”

‘There is only one way – to work hard and improve’

It was another damaging game for Leeds and their hopes of staying in the Premier League.

They have shown this season they are capable of scoring more goals than many of their relegation rivals, but they have been undone throughout the campaign by a porous defence.

The 5-1 defeat against Palace on 9 April and Monday’s loss represents the first time in their history they have conceded five or more times in successive games.

While they remain two points above the relegation zone, their goal difference advantage on those below them has been decimated.

“It’s hard to accept the game today, the result as well,” boss Javi Gracia told BBC Sport.

“We lost composure during the game. We tried in the beginning. Maybe the first goal opened the game and maybe it came from a handball but we have to improve for the next game.”

Asked about his side’s defensive frailty, the Spaniard – who has taken 10 points from eight games since succeeding Jesse Marsch – said: “It is something we need to work on and try to improve.

“It is something we didn’t do in previous games and now we are in the most important part of the season. We have to be more solid and defend better.

“There is only one way. Try to work hard and try to improve.”

They now face a trio of games that will likely make or break their season, with away trips to Fulham and Bournemouth either side of a home game against Leicester City.

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