Manchester City 2-3 Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp praises ‘one of best ever’ displays in FA Cup semi-final win
Jurgen Klopp praised one of Liverpool’s “best ever” performances under the German as the Reds beat Manchester City to reach the FA Cup final, but he insisted it was not a “statement” win.
Klopp’s side swept away City in an exhilarating first-half display at Wembley to lead 3-0 at the break.
Pep Guardiola’s team came back in the second half to make it 3-2 but it was not enough to deny Liverpool the win.
“Absolutely proud, incredible,” said Klopp.
“The first half was one of the best we ever played. We did all the right stuff, we scored in the right moments. We were outstanding. I loved each second of it.
“The second half started with the goal for Man City and then it opens up. The quality of City is insane.
“We respect City so much and it’s so difficult to win against them. But because we have these boys in our dressing room we have a chance.”
The win followed the thrilling 2-2 draw between the two sides at Etihad Stadium last Sunday in the Premier League.
City and Liverpool are battling for the league title, with leaders City one point ahead of their rivals with seven games remaining.
Saturday’s semi-final result ended City’s hopes of the Treble but kept Liverpool on course for an unprecedented quadruple.
They have already won the League Cup and, like City, are also in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
“It’s not a statement, we are just in the final,” added Klopp, who has led Liverpool into the FA Cup final for the first time during his reign.
“I think City knew beforehand that it could be difficult against us, that’s how it has been between us most of the time.
“The quadruple talk, I can’t believe it. Qualifying for this final makes the quadruple even more difficult.
“I don’t think we have a full free week before the last matchday. But we beat the strongest team in the world and that’s a pretty special moment.”
‘Liverpool were in a world of their own’
Victory for Liverpool means they have won 38 of the 52 games they have played in all competitions this season, losing just three times – twice in the Premier League and once in the Champions League.
While they had to twice come from behind to draw at City last weekend they were exceptional in the first half at Wembley as two goals from Sadio Mane and an Ibrahima Konate header ultimately proved insurmountable for Guardiola’s side.
“It’s always a treat when these two sides play,” former Arsenal and England defender Martin Keown said on BBC One.
“City just left themselves too much to do – credit them for the second half, much better – but Liverpool were in a world of their own in their first half.”
“Liverpool had the game won in the first half down to their brilliance but also City were not alive, which I’ve not said for a while,” former Manchester City defender Micah Richards said on BC One.
“In the second half they upped the tempo. It looked more like the City we recognise. It wasn’t enough today but in the end Liverpool were the better team.”
For former England and Newcastle striker Alan Shearer, Klopp and Guardiola’s respective team selections were decisive.
Zack Steffen has been City’s cup goalkeeper this season and was named in the starting XI, but Klopp opted for his first choice Alisson.
Steffen made a costly mistake to gift Mane Liverpool’s second while Alisson made a crucial one-on-one save from Gabriel Jesus in the second half.
“Big decisions from Jurgen Klopp in terms of his team selection have helped win the game because there’s no doubt he played his number one goalkeeper,” Shearer said on BBC One.
“Manchester City didn’t and, ultimately, their goalkeeper has made mistakes which have cost them. Alisson in that second half pulled off two very good saves – one, the one-on-one from Jesus, was superb.
“And that’s what’s turned out to be the difference.”
Defeat reignites striker talk for City?
Shearer also felt the result highlighted how an out-and-out striker would prove beneficial to City in such games.
City have long been linked with world-class centre-forwards, including Harry Kane and Erling Braut Haaland, and Shearer feels this result will strengthen the case for them to sign one this summer.
“When you get to this stage of the season and you’re playing such important matches, those little chances make all the difference,” he said.
“World-class strikers take those chances, that’s why he wanted Harry Kane, that’s why he wants Haaland and will probably get him.”
Richards added: “When City lose everyone says they need a striker. I agree in terms of throwing that in the mix as a plan B.
“City are so good because of the midfielders running into space and creating space for others… but sometimes you know what City will do but with a striker you have a difference in there.”