Klopp accepts Salah substitution sparked Roma fightback

By Jamie Smith at Anfield 25 April 2018 198
Klopp accepts Salah substitution sparked Roma fightback

Jurgen Klopp accepts he may be criticised for substituting Mohamed Salah after the forward ran riot against former club Roma in the Champions League semi-final.

Salah scored a first-half brace then set up Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino after the break as Liverpool raced into an incredible 5-0 lead against the Serie A side at Anfield on Tuesday.

But when Klopp opted to withdraw Salah for Danny Ings with 15 minutes remaining, the switch sparked a stunning Roma fightback, late Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti goals leaving the tie somewhat improbably balanced.

Roma overturned a three-goal first-leg deficit in the last round against Barcelona but Klopp explained he was not prepared to risk Salah's fitness, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain having suffered a first-half knee injury that could end his season.

"Outstanding. Pretty much can't defend [against him]," Klopp told a post-match news conference of Salah's spectacular showing.

"The way we played after the first 15 minutes and adapted to their formation, we played how we played, he has a massive impact. 

"I like the other boys too but the first goal is a genius strike. He scored a few like this, it is even more special as it is no coincidence.

"Second goal is brilliant play, Bobby between the lines, and he is cool in the moment. Then he made the other two goals, right?

"So if anyone wants to say it's my mistakes we conceded the last two goals because I changed the striker I have no problem with that.

"I didn't think we prepared our passes that well after [the substitution]. Mo was running for all of them and we don't want him to get injured."

Despite being full of praise for the newly crowned PFA Players' Player of the Year, Klopp stopped short of saying Salah has eclipsed Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo due to his staggering form.

"What a player. You always create stories," Klopp said. "If you think he's the best in the world write it or say it, whatever, he is outstanding and world class, 100 per cent.

"To be the best in the world you must do it over a long period and there are other guys who are not bad. He's fantastic and I am very happy to have him."

Klopp also rejected a suggestion the match would have been different had Salah still been playing for his former side.

"I'm not interested in that to be honest, it is like it is," Klopp added. "If Neymar does not go to PSG from Barcelona, [Philippe] Coutinho is still here, so it's all different then. It is like it is.

"We hoped he had that impact yes, and he plays a season that is not normal. We hope and try to help him to continue, that's the job we have to do.

"It's a team game but we need players to make decisions and do the decisive things, he is really good at this and we are really happy that we could get him in the summer."

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