Jürgen Klopp's unbeaten run ended by compatriot Leroy Sane | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

26 June, Wednesday


Jürgen Klopp's unbeaten run ended by compatriot Leroy Sane

Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool fell to their first league defeat of the season in a pulsating Premier League title clash. It was a fellow German who struck the decisive blow, with Leroy Sane continuing to impress.

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Among the dozens of threads woven into Thursday night's tense and thrilling spectacle, it was the dual seams of pressure and pressing that proved to be the most critical to Manchester City's 2-1 win.

"It was big pressure on the game. Very intense and we were unlucky in our finishing moments," lamented Klopp after the game.

From the off, this tussle between the best two teams in the Premier League was played at the most frantic of paces. Two minutes in, Liverpool keeper Allison uncharacteristically shanked the sort of backpass he'd usually stroke out to a teammate into the stand. He wasn't the only one. As Manchester City players swarmed around their visitors, Klopp's charges looked nervy, the German coach's signature tactic was being used against him.

"How many times do you see this many unforced errors," Klopp asked after the game. "It was because every time they had the ball, three men were jumping on them."

Charged atmosphere

City pressed more on Thursday than they have for most of this season, and certainly more effectively than they have in their recent run of poor form.

The crowd at a stadium often justifiably criticized for its lack of anything approaching an atmosphere was rocking, every touch of every player in red was booed with a ferocity matched by their players, at times it even sounded a little like Anfield — or even the Westfalenstadion.

"We went toe to toe with a very aggressive and physical team and matched them," said City skipper Vincent Kompany after the game. "We are a better team when we play with emotions.” 

But, after the initial shock, Liverpool got back into the game and were 1.2 centimeters away from taking the lead when John Stones cleared into his own goalkeeper before desperately hacking off the line. Both teams probed for weakness until Sergio Agüero found one in the shape of the cumbersome Dejan Lovren. The Argentine's movement was far too sharp for Lovren, whose body shape was poor, and his finish from a narrow angle was emphatic and deadly.

As the second half began, the home side had control thanks largely to a relentlessly excellent display from Fernandinho in the home side's midfield. Klopp reacted by introducing his own all-action Brazilian midfielder, Fabinho, and Liverpool soon got back into the game.

Sane, who had been relatively quiet until that point, allowed his direct opponent - Trent Alexander-Arnold - to cut inside far too easily and pick out Andrew Robertson. The Scottish left back cushioned a volley back across goal and Roberto Firmino did the rest.

Moment of redemption

The momentum seemed to have switched in a game that never left the knife's edge. But when Sterling escaped Robertson to feed Sane, the former Schalke winger fizzed a low shot of redemption off both posts and in.

The winner was his 15th goal involvement (goals and assists) in the Premier League this season, one every 105 minutes. After his shock omission from Germany's World Cup squad, the 22-year-old winger has upped his game, and now he's stepped up when it really mattered, when the pressure was on. 

After the game, Klopp cut a disappointed but not dejected figure, understandable given Liverpool remain four points clear. But, for all that he rightly says this one could've gone either way, he also knows that Liverpool haven't won the title for 29 years. Sane and City will know that too, they look equipped to keep the pressure on.

Deutsche Welle

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