Liverpool started their Europa League campaign with a 3-1 victory over LASK.
Jurgen Klopp has stressed that Liverpool will not ‘fly through’ Group E of the Europa League after battling to victory in their opening game.
The Reds were forced to fight from behind to earn a 3-1 victory over LASK in Austria. With Klopp making 11 changes to his team from the Premier League victory over Wolves – including handing full debuts to Ryan Gravenberch and Ben Doak – the visitors fell behind for the fourth time in five matches this season when Florian Flitter bagged for LASK in the 14th minute.
However, the Reds improved significantly in the second half, with Darwin Nunez levelling from the penalty spot. Diaz put Klopp’s men ahead in the 63rd minute before Mo Salah came off the bench to round off the win with two minutes remaining.
Liverpool are favourites to win the Europa League, especially being handed a kind draw, on paper, with Toulouse and Royal Union Saint-Gilloise also in their pool. Klopp knows that they’ll be tough tests, although he did see some positives against LASK.
The Anfield supremo told reporters: “So, obviously. LASK had in the first half one shot on target and it was after a set-piece. We had very good moments but I saw the boys didn’t feel that, it was not that we could think about our good moments – and I thought maybe we should do that again. Confidence-wise, frustration grew. That makes no sense; it’s human but it makes no sense.
“We showed two football situations from the first half where we did pretty well. I’m pretty sure the boys would have thought there was nothing good from the first half, but that’s not true; we had good moments and that’s what we showed and besides that we could start getting back into the game again and we had a good chance to turn it around. And that’s what we did. And I’m really happy because I knew it would be difficult, it was difficult. We won it, well deserved, that’s it.
“How I said, I know how the world is and I know that people expect us to fly through this competition. It will not happen. It will not happen in the group stage, it will not happen in the knockout stage. We have to dig in, which we did. It was a massive learning curve tonight, the opponent suffered much less from the pitch than we did. We had to get used to it. So we can learn so much.
“If we would have used Ben Doak a little more often, given him the ball I think he would have got the ball more times on the touchline and passed the ball inside or whatever. Stefan [Bajcetic] found a way into the game after a difficult start, but we caused the problems obviously with the timing of our passes. Ryan [Gravenberch] played a super game in really difficult circumstances and was really decisive for us. Ibou [Konate] could get 80 minutes I think, Stefan could get minutes. So there were so many positives and I am really happy about that.”
Klopp also hinted that the pitch at the Raiffeisen Arena didn’t help Liverpool’s performance. He added: “I applaud the crowd and the atmosphere in the stadium is great. The pitch is really bad, I’m glad we don’t play here in December but apart from that everything was really good. I mean, 19,800 [people] so great atmosphere.”