NEWCASTLE: Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has described his team’s 10-man, 2-1 win against Newcastle United on Sunday as a “once in a lifetime” performance.
Magpies winger Anthony Gordon had given the home side an early lead before Virgil van Dijk was shown a red card minutes later for a foul on Alexander Isak.
But with their backs against the wall, the Merseyside outfit clawed their way back into the encounter in the closing stages, as substitute Darwin Nunez first equalized, then completed the comeback with a fine stoppage time finish to leave St. James’ Park stunned. Klopp said he was, too.
“In my 1,000 games I’ve managed, I’ve never had a game like this, that’s the truth,” the German said.
“Not that we haven’t overturned games, but down to 10 men, in an atmosphere like this, against an opponent like this, I can’t remember. I’m pretty sure it never happened.
“These moments are rare and so it was special. The boys deserved it today. With 10 men we played better and gave Newcastle a game.”
The Magpies’ head coach Eddie Howe’s decision to remove star men Sandro Tonali and Gordon with Newcastle a goal up has been questioned by supporters. And he said he would do things differently, given his time again.
“That’s as painful a game as I’ve had here for me and for us. I thought we played really well. The opening stages of the game can’t be forgotten by me,” he said.
“The sending off almost harms us really in the match, although the chances were there for us to kill the game. The second goal changes everything and we didn’t get it. Nunez comes on and they’re looking for one moment and they don’t just get one they get two.
“We tried to change the momentum of the match. Liverpool had a flurry of set plays and there was some pressure in that moment and we wanted a bit more control. But Liverpool are a very, very dangerous counterattacking team.
“There are always things you’d do differently if you don’t win the match, that’s for sure.
“In hindsight you’d always do things differently when you’re in my shoes, that’s the job you’re in. We have to trust our bench, we have to trust top quality players.”
But Howe said he remained confident of the strength of the Newcastle bench to come good in similar situations in the future.
“We have Harvey Barnes, Callum Wilson and Sean Longstaff — Sean and Callum were outstanding for us last year so I can’t fear putting them on the pitch because they’re top quality players. As is Harvey,” he said.
“Sometimes when you make those changes, it doesn’t go as you foresee but the same thing could have happened leaving the same players on the pitch. That’s the game we’re in.”
Former Everton player Gordon was delighted to silence the fans of his former rivals, with his first goal at St. James’ Park. But it was a hollow victory.
“It’s hard to say really, you have to go through it to really understand it,” he said at the end of the match.
“It’s just really disappointing. The game started so well, we were in a good place but we just couldn’t get that second goal. And against the top teams that’s exactly what you have to do.
“We played really well, we created the chances, we just weren’t clinical enough and that’s what is going to separate us from the real top teams. That’s where we need to push and focus on improving because if we can do that, we can beat anyone.
“I took my chance well, it felt amazing but obviously it doesn’t mean anything anymore.”