Today marks the 32nd anniversary of the darkest day in the history of Liverpool Football Club. The Hillsborough disaster claimed 96 innocent lives on this day in 1989.
96 supporters were unlawfully killed at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough football stadium on April 15, 1989.
Today, players and staff across the club will observe a minute’s silence in memory of the 96 at 3.06pm – the time that the game was stopped on that fateful day.
The club will lay floral wreaths at the Hillsborough memorial at Anfield, flags will be flown at half-mast, and the Anfield retail store will close from 1pm for the remainder of the day.
Our thoughts today are with all those affected by the tragedy.
In memory of the 96 supporters who went to watch their beloved Reds but never returned. May they rest in peace and never be forgotten.
With the 32nd anniversary of Hillsborough landing the day after Liverpool’s exit from the Champions League, Steven Scragg highlights the need for perspective among fans.
Perspective is important to me.
When times are good, I am keeping a watchful eye open for the banana skin up ahead. When dark clouds gather, I seek the glimmer of hope, and the totally inappropriate element of humour, in order to lighten the mood.
I’ll analyse patterns and recognise familiar tangents that have been encountered before, yet I will refuse to follow fashions and trends.
A collection of snapshot images makes up the landscape of the mind. I’ll see something new, then from that photo album of the mind will come an image of something similar from the past.
Parallels can then be drawn, and an esoteric link will spring from the subconscious, be it a plastic bag in an updraft or Bobby Ewing reappearing in Pam’s shower, a year after being ruthlessly mown down by his sister-in-law, Katherine Wentworth.
Yes, I really have written in-depth about both of those concepts upon the pages of This Is Anfield.
Observation naval gazing, I suppose it could be classed as. A search for the absurd maybe, which is rooted in being a month shy of my 15th birthday when I went to Hillsborough, for the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.
It was an experience that left the deepest of impressions, and left Liverpool FC as simultaneously the most and least important thing in my life, until I found my soulmate and my children were born.
In life and football, nothing is ever new. It is simply recycled from things that have gone before.
This heavily replayed record of mine gets stuck once a year though, on and around April 15. This is even more so when the sun is shining, just as it was at this precise moment 32 years ago. April 15 is infinitely easier to deal with when the weather is awful.
The anniversary of Hillsborough should always reset us. It should be a moment when the inner voice tells you to stop howling at the moon, if just for a day.
That last defeat doesn’t really matter; the fumbled opportunity from the previous evening really shouldn’t provoke the levels of anger you feel. There is no need at all to throw projectiles at a passing vehicle.
I can’t even begin to consider what place you reach, when the seed of an idea germinates that what you simply must do is to log on to your favoured form of social media in order to racially abuse somebody who plays for the team you support.
As disappointing as an exit from the Champions League quarter-finals was last night, it isn’t the end of the world. We created chances that we should have taken, but didn’t, while Zinedine Zidane went a bit Sam Allardyce, in terms of a pragmatic approach.
Real West Bromwich Madrid will now face Chelsea in the semi-finals and the very best of luck to them. See, something absurd…
It doesn’t really matter, and with a bit of luck we’ll have another pop next season – or the season after that, in the event of us not finishing in the top four of the Premier League this time around.
I was unsettled more by the news of the attack on the Madrid coach on its approach to Anfield. Especially at this time of year, it is not just unacceptable.
It’s small-time behaviour. We are Liverpool, and we’re better than that. Or at least we should be.
Back our team to the hilt but respect our opponents, unless they disrespect us. The rule was always that we’d never set out to pick a fight, but that we’d rise to one if required and end it if challenged, whether that is the wanton attempted destruction of the club we love by its previous owners or the government’s shameful inaction over the Hillsborough Disaster.
We’re Not English, We Are Scouse is a state of mind, rather than geography. You are allowed to buy into that ethos, wherever you’re from.
Carry on along the path of attacking our European visitors, though, and we’ll soon be one short step away from lobbing plastic chairs around picturesque piazzas and waging war against water cannons.
What was that other banner? What We Achieve in Life Echoes Through Eternity. In both positive and negative terms, everything that happens in the name of Liverpool FC creates a domino effect like no other club.
Yes, enjoy life, yes, love the team, but there’s no need to be a complete and utter arse when going about your activities.
Thirty-two years ago, life ended abruptly for 96 Liverpool supporters, their right to enjoy life and to love their team needlessly taken from them.
In our contemporary situation, while we wait impatiently for the chance to click through the turnstiles once more, there will be supporters of every club that won’t have the opportunity to return. I’ll see it as a privilege to be back.
Introspection at this time of year is vital, and perspective is everything.
It has been a season of struggle for Roberto Firmino, and the Liverpool striker was the first to admit it as he assessed his form, saying “I know that I’m not at my best.”
With Liverpool suffering throughout the campaign, Firmino has been one of those to most noticeably flounder as he fails to replicate the form that has made him to integral to Jurgen Klopp‘s side.
In 41 appearances so far, the Brazilian has scored six goals and laid on seven assists, with this by far his worst return since joining the Reds from Hoffenheim in 2015.
Firmino’s influence has never truly been measured in numbers, of course, but the 29-year-old is visibly struggling to replicate his best form as Liverpool’s all-action, pressing centre-forward.
He knows that, with Firmino giving an honest take on his situation in an interview with ESPN Brasil.
“It’s been a difficult season for me,” he admitted.
“We have to be sincere, there’s no lack of hope for improvement. My desire is to evolve and grow every day. There’s no lack of motivation for me.
“I charge myself a lot. I know that I’m not at my best moment compared to the last few years.
“I always want to be helping with goals and assists, but that hasn’t been happening, unfortunately.
“But I don’t give up. I’m always looking to improve to help my team to be better, together with the group. I have to evolve day after day.”
It is difficult to argue with Firmino’s assessment, and it is encouraging in a way that the No. 9 recognises his drop in form and is resolved to correct it.
Elsewhere in his interview, Firmino noted that Liverpool’s opponents have more regularly taken a different approach to their meetings, dropping deep to pack the defensive third and crowd out the Reds’ attackers.
In theory, his ability to shift into space and link up play should help to counteract this, and Firmino explained that Liverpool “have to keep fighting.”
“For our team as a whole, the season hasn’t been as good as last year. But we have to find a way to continue,” he said.
“Our opponents today have a different look at our team. Of course, they always respected us, but today they retreat very defensively.
“Sometimes it’s very difficult for us to get in and score goals.
Jones Knows pens his predictions and betting insights as he sees more misery for Jose Mourinho at Everton and tips Seamus Coleman for an assist at 11/1.Everton vs Tottenham, Friday 8pm, live on Sky Sports Friday 16th April 7:30pm Kick off 8:00pm
Jose Mourinho teams are traditionally built around a rock-solid foundation. Not this Spurs team, though.
Mourinho doesn't know his best defensive pairing, switching between Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez, Joe Rodon and Eric Dier at a scattergun rate. Since December 12, only six teams have conceded more goals than Spurs' total of 26 goals, with just five clean sheets in their last 20 Premier League matches. No wonder a place in the top four is slipping through their fingers.
This lack of cohesion at the heart of the Spurs defence is making them easy to score against and it's why I'm happy to side with the home team. Everton have enough quality in forward areas to punish them.
The source of a goal could materialise courtesy of some Seamus Coleman magic down the right flank. Carlo Ancelotti has given him more licence to get forward in a wing-back role in the past two fixtures and Coleman has created six chances for his teammates during that period. One of those chances was taken - a James Rodriguez strike vs Crystal Palace - and when you add everything up, the 11/1 with Sky Bet for him to register another assist against the shaky Spurs backline is worth an interest.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 2-1
BETTING ANGLE: Seamus Coleman to register an assist (11/1 with Sky Bet)Newcastle vs West Ham, Saturday 12.30pm, live on Sky Sports
Regular readers won't be surprised to see I'm well against West Ham here at Evens. It's news that will be greeted with great celebration in east London as the Hammers have made making me look stupid an art form this season.
A haul of nine points from their last three games - all 3-2 victories having raced into a 3-0 lead - has catapulted David Moyes' side right into the top-four mix. They are 7/4 with Sky Bet to cap a remarkable season by qualifying for the Champions League and look home and hosed for a top-six finish at 2/9.
However, not for the first time this season, I'm deeming their recent run of results unsustainable on the basis of their performances. The nine goals scored in their last three games have been amassed from an expected goal figure of just 4.83, much to the individual brilliance of Messi, I mean, Jesse, Lingard.
Unsurprisingly, their shot conversion rate of 32 per cent over the past three fixtures is the highest amassed by any team.Saturday 17th April 12:00pm Kick off 12:30pm
West Ham are scoring goals at key moments in matches despite not creating clear-cut chances. Fine margins can't keep falling in their favour and at the prices I'm happy to row in with Newcastle, who should have Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin fit to play from the start - an upgrade that takes them from relegation fodder to a dangerous mid-table outfit. At 13/5 with Sky Bet, Newcastle should be backed to do the double over the Hammers having won 2-0 in the reverse fixture on the opening day.
Those that aren't quite brave enough to take on such an in-form team in West Ham should perhaps play a bit safer with the 6/4 on offer for Newcastle to have 14 or more shots.
With Saint-Maximin, Miguel Almiron and Wilson all on the pitch, Newcastle are averaging a whopping 14.9 shots at goal per 90 minutes - a huge increase on their overall average which is 10.9 per 90 minutes since Bruce took the job.
And despite winning four of their last five matches, West Ham have actually faced the most shots on their goal of any Premier League team in that period (83), averaging out at a whopping 16.6 per 90 minutes. They can be got at.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 2-1
BETTING ANGLE: Newcastle to have 14 or more shots (6/4 with Sky Bet)Wolves vs Sheffield United, Saturday 8.15pm, live on Sky Sports
What more could you want from a Saturday night, eh?
At least we might get to witness a confident Adama Traore playing at full throttle.
We've waited long enough but there have been signs that the electric Spaniard is rediscovering the form of last season. After 1,956 minutes without a Premier League goal or an assist, Traore now has one of each in his last two games. Both contributions - his 70-yard run before setting up Leander Dendoncker against West Ham, and the powerful finish at Fulham - showcased him at his very best. With Pedro Neto unavailable due to injury, Traore is now Wolves' most likely route to goal in this game against the sorry Blades. The chief goal threat shouldn't be 15/2 with Sky Bet to score the first goal. It must be backed.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 2-0
BETTING ANGLE: Adama Traore to score first (15/2 with Sky Bet)Arsenal vs Fulham, Sunday 1.30pm, live on Sky Sports Sunday 18th April 12:30pm Kick off 1:30pm
It's unlikely the "race for ninth" is going to get many of the Arsenal players fully revved up for this encounter but they might not need to be at full pelt to swat aside flaky Fulham.
The west Londoners are likely to get relegated for many reasons, but the one that stands out to me is their woeful conversion rate in terms of shots to goals. A season return of 6.38 is the lowest of any team in the Premier League.
Scott Parker has a team that plays mature football to get to within shooting distance in matches, as shown by their shots haul of 376 this season - the ninth highest in the Premier League. They just can't consistently take their chances.
More of the same is likely to be served up here as only a win will do in their quest to avoid the drop. Fulham have averaged 12.6 shots per 90 minutes in their last eight fixtures and when you throw in the must-win factor into the equation, the 13/2 with Sky Bet looks very generous for them to fire 15 or more shots during the 90 minutes. It'll give you a great run.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-1
BETTING ANGLE: Fulham to have 15 or more shots (13/2 with Sky Bet)Manchester United vs Burnley, Sunday 4.00pm, live on Sky Sports
My 25/1 on Manchester United to win the Premier League has never really got me too excited this season but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team have certainly shown further evidence that a serious title challenge is within their capabilities over the next few years. Their quality should shine through in this fixture, eventually.
However, if Premier League football matches lasted just 45 minutes, Manchester United would be meandering in mid-table this season. They are notorious for their slow starts in matches, to the extent that they've conceded the first goal in 41 per cent of their league fixtures this season. A huge figure for a team odds-on to finish as runners-up.
I'm happy to follow that sleepy start theory in for this encounter with Burnley, who are creating much more opportunities in the final third than they were earlier in the campaign, helped by the impressive form of Chris Wood and Matej Vydra.
Since losing 5-0 to Manchester City in February, Burnley are averaging 12.6 shots per 90 minutes and 1.2 goals per game. This is a big upsurge from an average of 8.3 shots and 0.6 goals per game in the first 21 fixtures of the season. The markets still seem to underrate them in terms of their attacking output, so they look a fair shout to find the net at Old Trafford.
And, as each of Burnley's last seven Premier League goals have come in the first half of games, added to United's poor first-half record in games, the 3/1 with Sky Bet for Burnley to score in the opening 45 minutes rates as a super punting angle.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 2-1
BETTING ANGLE: Burnley to score the first goal (3/1 with Sky Bet)Leeds vs Liverpool, Monday 8.00pm, live on Sky Sports
Liverpool haven't scored a goal before the 45th minute of a Premier League game since December 27. That is quite frankly staggering.
Two goals have come in the 45+4 and 45+2 minutes respectively but still, just two first-half goals in 16 Premier League matches is a very strange set of numbers to analyse. During that spell, they have created chances that should have equated to 10.37 goals using the expected goal model, registering 106 attempts on goal.
Such strange anomalies eventually regress back to a more normal figure and that may start here as Liverpool are facing up against a team that have conceded the most first-half goals in the Premier League this season (31). The floodgates may open for Liverpool early on, who have won each of their last three Premier League games, doing so whilst creating plenty of chances for their attacking players.
Don't be fooled by Leeds. They aren't all of a sudden going to be parking buses and defending manfully like they did at Manchester City last weekend. Marcelo Bielsa will be demanding high-pressing and attack-minded football which should make this a fantastic watch. Back Liverpool to breach their defence twice in the opening 45 minutes at a juicy 3/1 with Sky Bet.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-3
BETTING ANGLE: Liverpool to score two or more goals in the first half (3/1 with Sky Bet)
On the 32nd anniversary of the tragedy at Hillsborough, the club and families have been unable to hold a public ceremony to honour the 96 due to lockdown restrictions.
Instead, the families – no longer part of the Hillsborough Family Support Group after the decision to fold earlier this year – marked the sad occasion in private.
Members of the public are free to attend the Hillsborough Memorial outside Anfield, and the club laid flowers on Thursday to honour those who lost their lives to the disaster.
We stand together to remember the 96. pic.twitter.com/eByiZ0MFrt
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 15, 2021
Wreaths were laid by Klopp, Henderson and Dalglish, who was joined by Liverpool chief executive Billy Hogan, with the club’s message reading: “Today we stand together to remember the 96.
“They are always in our thoughts and never forgotten. YNWA – from all at LFC.”
Also in attendance were under-23s and under-18s managers Barry Lewtas and Marc Bridge-Wilkinson and their captains, Ben Woodburn and Jarell Quansah, along with women’s counterparts Amber Whiteley and Niamh Fahey.
Later on Thursday, staff and players will be joined by club chaplain Bill Bygroves to observe a minute’s silence at the Hillsborough Memorial at Kirkby.
At 3.06pm, the time at which Liverpool’s FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough in 1989 was stopped, 96 balloons will be released at Anfield to commemorate the 96.
Rest in peace, the 96. You’ll Never Walk Alone.
Tributes are being paid across Liverpool Football Club to mark the 32nd anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy.
Ninety-six children, women and men lost their lives as a result of the events that unfolded on April 15, 1989 at the FA Cup semi-final between the Reds and Nottingham Forest.
They will never be forgotten.
This morning, LFC CEO Billy Hogan and Sir Kenny Dalglish, and the respective managers and captains of the club’s men’s, women’s, U23s and U18s teams, laid floral wreaths at the Hillsborough memorial at Anfield.
Club staff and players will subsequently observe a minute’s silence, with the first-team squad joined by club chaplain Bill Bygroves beside the Hillsborough memorial in place at the AXA Training Centre.
At 3.06pm, the time at which the 1989 match was stopped, 96 balloons will be released at Anfield as a poignant tribute to the 96 supporters who died in the disaster.
Having been so influential in Bayern Munich’s march to Champions League glory a year ago, the Spain international was supposed to give Liverpool’s midfield a new dimension with his ability to pick holes in even the most well-drilled of elite backlines.
The £25 million deal struck last September for a player who had entered the final year of his contract represented a significant break from the club’s long-standing transfer policy. For the first time in Jurgen Klopp’s reign, Liverpool were buying a ready-made world-class talent.
As the red shirts streamed forward in the early stages at Anfield on Wednesday night, it seemed maybe, just maybe, there was another stirring European comeback on the cards for Liverpool.
James Milner set the tone with a crunching tackle on Karim Benzema after just 49 seconds. Barely a minute after that, Sadio Mane was teeing up Mohamed Salah for a chance he should have buried.
Liverpool kept on coming, creating enough opportunities to make their fans - sadly absent from the famous old stadium - believe the 3-1 deficit from the first leg would soon be reduced.
There were hearts in mouths when a Benzema shot struck the post but Liverpool were immediately back on the front foot.
Salah blasted another chance over, then Georginio Wijnaldum did the same, burying his face in his hands at his own profligacy.
"We had massive chances in the beginning of the game," rued Jurgen Klopp afterwards. "You use one of them and it opens it up."
Instead, Real Madrid were able to shut it down. But only after surviving a first-half blitz that was evocative of this Liverpool side as we know them best.
Even Toni Kroos, usually coolness personified, appeared ill at ease with their intensity, misplacing routine passes as Liverpool players swarmed around him and, at one point midway through the first half, even spraying a cross-field ball straight out of play.
Liverpool's ferocious pressing had a dizzying effect on Madrid and there was even a quickly-taken corner in the opening stages - Trent Alexander-Arnold picking out the unmarked Milner in the box - which was reminiscent of their fourth and decisive goal during the 2019 comeback against Barcelona.
Sadly for Liverpool, their hopes of replicating that extraordinary night receded during the second half. Real Madrid regained their composure and brought the game back down to tempo which suited them. "They played the time down," said Klopp with a smile.Image: Georginio Wijnaldum shows his frustration after a missed chance
But Liverpool did at least exit the competition looking more like themselves. "The performance in general was good, it was much better," added Klopp. "We didn't lose the tie tonight, we lost it in Madrid."
"It's disappointing," added Milner, "because if we had played the first leg with that intensity it would have been a different story."
It is that first-leg performance which will haunt them.
Liverpool barely laid a glove on Zinedine Zidane's side during the first half in Madrid and even when they did pull a goal back, the hosts were able to re-establish a deserved two-goal advantage.
It was always going to be a huge ask to turn the tie around but producing a performance in line with their identity was Liverpool's best hope of doing it and they certainly managed that.
"We did everything we wanted to do other than get the two goals," said Milner. "You always need those key moments," added Klopp.Top-four focus from here on in Image: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino rues a missed opportunity
The challenge now, with a slimmed-down schedule containing only Premier League fixtures, is to continue in the same vein domestically.
Liverpool's title hopes are long over but a top-four finish is not out of reach. In fact, they are only three points behind fourth-placed West Ham with seven games still to play.
"I think the most important thing is that we concentrate on our level of performance," added Milner. "If we perform with the intensity, desire and tempo that we played with tonight for the last league games then hopefully we can get into those top-four spots."
Their Premier League form bodes well. Liverpool have won three consecutive games in the competition - against Aston Villa, Arsenal and Wolves - for the first time since the opening weeks of the season and the opportunity is there to build momentum.
Their Monday Night Football meeting with Leeds - "leading-all-physical-stats-in-the-league Leeds," as Klopp called them in his post-match interview - will test their stamina following their European exertions.
But victory at Elland Road could close the gap further on the teams above them and five of Liverpool's final six games after that are against teams in the bottom half.
It is a kind run-in for a side targeting a strong finish and it is down to Liverpool to recover from their European disappointment and take advantage of it.Important transfer window to come Image: Jurgen Klopp tried to remain positive after the game
It will not be easy but Wednesday's performance showed the players are still behind Klopp and still able to perform with the energy and intensity he demands. It also underlined the need for reinforcements this summer, however.
Klopp rued the timing of his substitutions in his post-match interview, admitting they stalled Liverpool's momentum rather than boosting it - "we lost a little bit of rhythm in that moment," he said - but the personnel were surely the bigger issue.
Diogo Jota had some bright moments and has done plenty this season to show he has a bright future at Anfield but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Xherdan Shaqiri offered little and Naby Keita did not make it on at all after his poor showing in the first leg.
The midfield requires major surgery this summer and the uncertainty over Wijnaldum's new contract only adds to the urgency.
Seven of Liverpool's 11 starters on Wednesday night were in the team that faced Real Madrid in the 2018 final and the number would have been higher without their injuries.
The need for a refresh is obvious. Liverpool's lack of depth has been their undoing this season and it did not help them as they searched for solutions in the second half on Wednesday night.
Indeed, while another famous European comeback appeared to be in the offing earlier on, it was more in keeping with their season that they ultimately fell short. Liverpool may yet achieve a top-four finish in the Premier League this season, but a return to the very top requires further work.
Liverpool Football Club remembers the 96 supporters who died at Hillsborough, on the 32nd anniversary of the disaster.
As a result of the events on April 15, 1989, at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, 96 children, women and men lost their lives.
For more than three decades, the bereaved families and survivors of the tragedy have demonstrated remarkable courage, dignity and resilience.
In April 2016, an inquest jury concluded that the 96 were unlawfully killed and that no role was played by the supporters in causing the disaster.
Our thoughts, as always, are with all those affected by the tragedy at Hillsborough and the 96 fans who will never be forgotten.
Liverpool’s Champions League campaign is over despite a rousing second-leg showing against Real Madrid, a 0-0 draw sending the Reds out on aggregate.Liverpool 0-0 Real Madrid (1-3 agg)
Champions League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg, Anfield
April 14, 2021
There were questions pre-game over what the best midfield arrangement would be: a two-man pivot with more attackers on the pitch? Gini and Thiago as the 8s or a complete change of approach from Klopp?
Ultimately it was the ‘steady’ option the boss opted for, the mix of players which can keep the passes simple and reliable, but also offer the off-the-ball defensive work and covering in the channels which could guard against Real’s counter-attacking threat.
James Milner starting might not excite the masses, but he was clearly picked as part enforcer, part recovery runner – while Gini barely misses a minute anyway.
Thiago was the first option off the bench, as a result, but it perhaps would have been more ideal to see him on when Real were behind and being pinned back – as they should have been.
It was a plan which largely went well in that first half, a mixture of aggression and supporting passes forward, but of course that left the reliance of actually scoring on the attacking trio.
That shouldn’t have been an issue, given the chances presented to them.Clinical edge
It could have been 1-0 to the Reds five minutes in. It could have been 5-0 to the Reds at the break. Salah, Mane and Gini all had very good openings, plus a few half-sights and almost-openings which fell our way.
Confidence-boosting, for sure, but not deficit-reducing in the end.
Jurgen’s half-time team talk would have been supremely easy: keep doing everything the same, but find that finishing touch.
Minutes after the restart though it was a case of same old story: Firmino had one reasonable and one excellent chance. Courtois came to the rescue on the latter.
Salah missed two more openings, Jota off the bench rifled one into the side netting.
Liverpool had their chances, boy did they have their chances. At the weekend the long overdue home win arrived, but with it came the stat of less than one in a hundred shots finding the back of the net.
It was always a stretch to think we’d be able to fashion 200 against Los Blancos, even if the crowd had have been in place.Anfield improvement
The Champions League campaign is over, but the season as a whole isn’t – but results at home simply had to improve.
That win over Aston Villa, plus a largely dominant and improved performance here, certainly suggests that Liverpool have put any questions of a home-ground hoodoo behind them.
Scoring remains an issue, yes, but we won’t play Real Madrid and Thibaut Courtois every week.
There was enough intensity in the game, clever passing in the final third and bodies getting into the box to take shots to suggest that future games can be won, perhaps enough to claw back ground on the teams above in the league.Big positives to take
Being out of Europe is bad enough, so let’s not focus on those who didn’t hit top gear.
Alisson had precisely one thing to do all game and it was perfectly done: stopping Vinicius Jr’s attempted flick over him and smothering Benzema on the rebound. This was more like the sharp, authoritative Ali we know and need.
The full-backs both more than played their part, the regular outlet and creative force again, perhaps not inch-perfect with every ball but relentless, hard-working, tracking back their men and looking for cut-backs when possible.
Fabinho barely missed a trick and not much more needs to be said about him.
And in the first half, Firmino and Mane were very good for the most part, dangerous and creating openings – though both faded after the break.
Both need to rediscover their shooting boots, but there’s scope for optimism.League focus once more
So the season boils down to something very simple: seven matches, two league positions and three points to make up.
We’ll need a near-perfect end to the season to do it, but this Liverpool side is capable of unbeaten streaks. Even in this dismal overall campaign, the Reds are now on a run which is five unbeaten in the last six.
Leeds and Newcastle must both be viewed as three-point fixtures, that much is clear.
Beyond that, we’ll see the lay of the land: all the top sides will still drop points between now and the end, and it isn’t as simple as a single day off costing a top-four finish.
But there’s little margin for error and above all else, that goalscoring, clinical, confident touch in the box must be found.
A little better in that regard this time around and the Reds would have been headline material once more.
Instead, it’s back to the training ground to recover, reconsider and recharge for one final push – which will be decisive for both this season and next.
Jurgen Klopp says it is important Liverpool return to the Champions League by finishing in the Premier League's top four after exiting this season's competition at the hands of Real Madrid at the quarter-final stage.
Trailing 3-1 from the first leg, Liverpool created numerous opportunities in the second leg but failed to find their goalscoring boots as Real Madrid secured their passage to the last four, where they will play Chelsea, by battling to a 0-0 draw at Anfield.
The result means Liverpool's season will finish without silverware, but they still have the chance to secure a top-four finish in the Premier league and a return to next season's Champions League, starting with a trip to Leeds, live on Sky Sports Premier League on Monday Night Football.Monday 19th April 7:00pm Kick off 8:00pm
With seven games of the season remaining for Liverpool, Klopp insists his side are ready to fight right until the end to secure their Champions League place.
Asked if his side's performance against Real Madrid gave him confidence that they can go on and secure a top-four finish, he said: "That has nothing to do with confidence, I would say I am naturally confident, but that doesn't mean we will end up there.
"We just can read the table, we know the points, we know the situation and stuff like this. We know who we play and we don't have to talk too much about it. I said now what we think about it and, yes, we want and we have to - and if we want that we should play really good football, what we did tonight.
"But if we want to go through then we should finish those situations off on top of that because that is very helpful as well."
He added: "I think we are not in a bad moment at the moment; we played pretty well even when it was a late winner against Aston Villa. We played a good game against them, we played really good against Arsenal and not too good against Real Madrid in the first leg, but in the other games we were not bad.
"Tonight, a good game, so we just have to keep going. We really have to keep going, we have to keep fighting, we want to be in the Champions League next year but in the moment we still have to pick up more points than a lot of other teams.
"We love this competition and for other reasons it is very important we are back in it. We can now concentrate on the Premier League and we will. We have to work our socks off against Leeds."'Defeat won't impact us negatively' Image: Klopp says defeat will not impact Liverpool negatively
Klopp insists defeat to Real Madrid will not affect his side negatively and promised they would be ready for the challenge of Leeds next Monday.
"That will not happen that it impacts us negatively," he said. "We are not silly. We want what we earn. If we don't earn it 100 per cent, then we respect the situation that we don't get it.
"How I said, tonight if we scored an early goal this game would've been a different one - I think everybody knows that but it's hypothetical, we didn't. But it has now no impact on the Premier League, apart from that we don't play midweeks at least internationally - I'm pretty sure Premier League plays midweeks if I'm right.
"So we can concentrate and focus on the Premier League - what we will and what we have to. But it's tough just because we are still not in the hot seat, I would say, and we face Leeds on Monday, so that's a tough one.
"What can I say? They are the leader in all physical stats in the Premier League pretty much, so you better run a lot yourself. We have a few days until then, we will use that and then we make sure we are ready for that."'We lost the game in Madrid'
9 - This was Liverpool’s ninth two-legged knockout tie in the UEFA Champions League under Jürgen Klopp, and only the second time they have failed to win both home and away in the tie (also versus Atlético de Madrid in the Last 16 in 2019-20). Real. pic.twitter.com/7oR5lW4hWL— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 14, 2021
Liverpool could not fashion another of their famous European comebacks as, despite registering 15 shots, they managed just four shots on target as Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois remained largely untested.
But what really cost them was their performance in the Spanish capital for last week's first leg when a poor opening 45 minutes led to them losing 3-1.
"We started the game really well. We didn't lose the tie tonight, we lost the game in Madrid, it was clear," added Klopp.
"If we had gone 1-0 up it would have been a different game but because of the experience of Real Madrid and their situation we had to chase the game and they controlled the game and had counter-attacking chances themselves.
"With two good performances we would have had a better chance."'We just didn't finish' Image: Mohamed Salah spurned a number of opportunities as Liverpool exited the Champions League
Liverpool created enough chances but they were just not clinical enough in front of goal, a failing which has cost them already this season.
"It was uncomfortable for Madrid, we were good, we were aggressive, we played some really good stuff, had massive chances in the beginning of the game," said Klopp.
"If we used one of them, it opens up. They had already struggles, it would have increased that.
"It is a little bit ourselves this year because we had ridiculous games here we should have won, not tonight but in the Premier League, where we just didn't finish.
"Many times Mo Salah finished these type of things. We had many situations and we could have created more because the football we made was better."'Liverpool weren't ruthless; The damage was done in the first leg' Image: Georginio Wijnaldum shows his frustration after another Liverpool chance goes begging
Clinton Morrison on Sky Sports News:
"With fans in there at Anfield they definitely would've scored because there were times when they were creating numerous chances and they just weren't ruthless enough in front of goal.
"You wanted the chances to fall to Salah and he had big opportunities, but you have to credit Courtois and the Real Madrid defenders. I thought they defended brilliantly.
"However, on another night Liverpool could have come away winning that game 3-0. They were so comfortable. I never thought Real Madrid were going to score They had one great chance through Vinicius Jr when Alisson made a great save, other than that it was all Liverpool.
"But the damage was done in the first leg."Zidane: We knew we had to suffer Image: Real Madrid will face Chelsea in the Champions league semi-finals
Real coach Zinedine Zidane was delighted to be through to the semi-finals, where they will face Chelsea.
"We were up against it and we knew we had to suffer tonight, but in the end we got what we wanted, which was to go through.
3 - Real Madrid have faced Chelsea more often without winning than any other side in their entire history, failing to win in all three games against them (D1 L2), while their upcoming semi-final encounter will be their first ever UEFA Champions League meeting. Foes. pic.twitter.com/gBdCV3ZgTE— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 14, 2021
"I think we handled the game well, we rode the storm and can be proud of our display.
"We knew they'd start fast and they were really good in the opening 15 minutes, but that's normal.
"In the quarter-finals of the Champions League you have to dig in and we did that and got through."
There can be no questioning the intent and desire from the Reds in their second leg meeting with Real Madrid, but ultimately wayward finishing and mistakes in the Spanish capital proved costly.
The task was clear in that a 2-0 win would suffice in overcoming the 3-1 loss from the first leg, and while the Anfield clash was dominated by Liverpool they would have nothing to show for it.
It lends itself to questions of ‘what if?’ but the Reds can now only look to ensure Champions League nights return next season by finishing in the top four.
And Klopp reflected on the night by conceded the chances were there to win, but now focus will be on finishing the domestic season as strong as possible after three successive victories.
“With the experience of Real Madrid, we have to chase the game and then they could counter. And obviously, as we saw tonight, we had chances,” Klopp told reporters.
“We are not silly, we want what we earn. If we don’t earn it, we don’t get it.
“We just the read the table, we know the points. We want and we have to and if want it we need to play really good football.
“I think we are not in a bad moment, played really well. Good game v Arsenal, Villa and tonight.”
Liverpool have seven games remaining in their top-flight campaign and currently sit three points behind fourth-placed West Ham, where a trip to Leeds is next on the agenda on Monday night.
The hosts could not fashion another of their famous European comebacks as despite registering 15 shots they managed just four on target and Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was barely tested.
But what really cost them was their performance in the Spanish capital for last week’s first leg when their opening 45 minutes was woeful and led to them losing 3-1.
“We started the game really well. We didn’t lose the tie tonight, we lost the game in Madrid, it was clear,” he said.
“If we had gone 1-0 up it would have been a different game but because of the experience of Real Madrid and their situation we had to chase the game and they controlled the game and had counter-attacking chances themselves.
“With two good performances we would have had a better chance.”
Liverpool created enough chances but they were just not clinical enough in front of goal, a failing which has cost them already this season.
“It was uncomfortable for Madrid, we were good, we were aggressive, we played some really good stuff, had massive chances in the beginning of the game,” he added.
“If we used one of them, it opens up. They had already struggles, it would have increased that.
“It is a little bit ourselves this year because we had ridiculous games here we should have won, not tonight but in the Premier League, where we just didn’t finish.
“Many times Mo Salah finished these type of things. We had many situations and we could have created more because the football we made was better.”
Real coach Zinedine Zidane was delighted to be through to the semi-finals, where they will face Chelsea.
“We have suffered tonight under pressure but we have got through this quarter-final tie,” he said.
“I think we deserve to have got through this round. We knew they would make it hard for us but we controlled parts of the game very well.
“We were very solid. It was a game which was very important for us to get through and we gave it everything we’ve got.”
Jürgen Klopp was pleased with Liverpool's improved showing against Real Madrid on Wednesday night but rued the first-leg display after his side were eliminated from the Champions League.
The Reds exit the competition at the quarter-final stage following a 3-1 aggregate defeat by Zinedine Zidane's team in their last-eight tie.
Tasked with overcoming a two-goal deficit at Anfield, Klopp's men applied heavy pressure on the Real backline throughout the second leg but, ultimately, were unable to find a breakthrough on the night and drew 0-0.
Read on for a summary of the boss' post-match press conference...
On how close he was to getting the performance that would have got Liverpool through...
We started the game extremely well and could have obviously scored there early, but we didn't. So, we were good in the game, we played much better. We didn't lose the tie tonight, we lost the game obviously in Madrid, that's clear, with the performance we put out there, which was not good enough. Today it was good enough to go 1-0 up for sure and then it would've been a different game. So, with the experience of Real Madrid and the situation like you have to chase a game, that you have to score and stuff like this, it got more and more difficult obviously. So they controlled the game from a specific moment on, had then their counter-attacking chances themselves. But obviously what we saw tonight, with two good performances we would've had a better chance to go through. One good performance without scoring then anyway was not enough.
On ensuring the elimination acts as motivation rather than impacts negatively...
That will not happen that it impacts us negatively. We are not silly. We want what we earn. If we don't earn it 100 per cent, then we respect the situation that we don't get it. How I said, tonight if we scored an early goal this game would've been a different one – I think everybody knows that but it's hypothetical, we didn't. But it has now no impact on the Premier League, apart from that we don't play midweeks at least internationally – I'm pretty sure Premier League plays midweeks if I'm right. So we can concentrate and focus on the Premier League – what we will and what we have to. But it's tough just because we are still not in the hot seat, I would say, and we face Leeds on Monday, so that's a tough one. What can I say? They are the leader in all physical stats in the Premier League pretty much, so you better run a lot yourself. We have a few days until then, we will use that and then we make sure we are ready for that.
On whether tonight's performance gives him confidence Liverpool can secure a return to the Champions League next season…
That has nothing to do with confidence, I would say I am naturally confident, but that doesn't mean we will end up there. We just can read the table, we know the points, we know the situation and stuff like this. We know who we play and we don't have to talk too much about it. I said now what we think about it and, yes, we want and we have to – and if we want that we should play really good football, what we did tonight. But if we want to go through then we should finish those situations off on top of that because that is very helpful as well. I think we are not in a bad moment at the moment; we played pretty well even when it was a late winner against Aston Villa. We played a good game against them, we played really good against Arsenal and not too good against Real Madrid in the first leg, but in the other games we were not bad. Tonight, a good game, so we just have to keep going. We really have to keep going, we have to keep fighting, we want to be in the Champions League next year but in the moment we still have to pick up more points than a lot of other teams.
On who he believes will win the Champions League and his thoughts on Thibaut Courtois, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos...
Who wins the Champions League I honestly could not care less. Who will win the final I think they will deserve it. There are four incredibly strong teams in, so congratulations already to whoever will do that. Courtois is a really good goalie and that's it. I think we controlled the three midfielders tonight much better than in the first leg. That means when you let them play then they are pretty much unplayable but if you defend them well, like we did tonight, then they have their problems as well because they are human beings. We learned a lot from the first game, how to do it differently, we used that tonight and it could have been enough but it wasn't because we didn't score.
James Milner rued missed chances after Liverpool were eliminated from the Champions League by Real Madrid.
The Reds went into Wednesday night’s quarter-final second leg at Anfield needing to overturn a 3-1 deficit from last week’s match in the Spanish capital.
But, despite a much-improved display from Jürgen Klopp's side that featured 15 shots on goal, Real held out for a 0-0 draw that sees them through to the last four.
Milner told BT Sport: “I thought the performance was good. The intensity [and] desire were good, we won the ball back well, pressed pretty well.
“But you can’t not take the chances we had tonight. We had more than enough chances to do what we needed to do and we didn’t take them and that was the difference unfortunately.”
Read on for the rest of the captain’s post-match interview…
On Liverpool's profligacy in front of goal…
The positive is that we’re creating them [chances], especially against a team like this, and the reaction we showed after the first leg. We have done enough tonight to go through, I believe that with the chances we had. We were obviously the better team. Ali’s made a good save as well, which you’re going to expect, but we did enough to win the game and do what we needed to do. But if you don’t take your chances… and you only need that first one, if you get the first one then obviously it changes the game again but if you don’t take your chances then you’re not going to go through.
On their high-tempo start to the game…
We wanted to come out of the blocks and make sure they had no time on the ball, and set that tempo and intensity. I think that carried through then from early on and maybe with a few of the substitutions - sometimes you lose your way a bit for a few minutes until the guys get into the game, maybe that cost us a few minutes of time, but we came again and had chances once the boys come on and felt the tempo of the game. It’s disappointing, a disappointing way to end obviously, because if we’d have played the first leg with that same intensity I’m sure it could have been a different story.
On the Reds giving themselves ‘a mountain to climb’ with their performance in the first leg…
We did. From our poor performance [in the] first leg, but you could say we’ve left ourselves too much to do because we haven’t done it, but like I said, we have done enough tonight to probably win the game if we take our chances. But ultimately we weren’t good enough over the two games. It was a good effort tonight, I thought there were some outstanding performances. Nat Phillips again was absolutely fantastic at the back. Again, it’s disappointing because we did everything we wanted to do other than get the two goals, which is obviously the most important thing.
On refocusing on securing a top-four finish in the Premier League…
The most important thing is we concentrate on our level of performance and if we perform with that level of intensity and desire and tempo that we played with tonight for the last league games, hopefully we can get into those top-four spots. But that’s the most important thing: that we replicate this form and these sorts of performances. That’s the one thing that has been missing, that consistency we haven’t had, so that’s what we need to get back and have a big push in these last few games and put this disappointment aside.