Jurgen Klopp pays tribute to Liverpool’s outgoing stars Roberto Firmino and James Milner
Jurgen Klopp pays tribute to outgoing Liverpool stars Roberto Firmino and James Milner on an emotional day at Anfield… as he rues decisions that may have seen the Reds’ hopes of Champions League football slip away in 1-1 draw with Aston Villa
- Firmino provided a fairytale ending when he scored in final Anfield appearance
- Joining the duo in their departure are Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
- Re-live the action as Liverpool seal dramatic late point through Roberto Firmino
Jurgen Klopp admitted Liverpool took time to adjust to the emotion of saying farewell to Roberto Firmino and James Milner as they were held 1-1 by Aston Villa to effectively end their Champions League qualification hopes.
A teary Firmino rescued a point for Liverpool with a late equaliser on his final Anfield appearance after eight years and Klopp said the human impact of losing one of the most popular players in the club’s history had been difficult.
‘Bobby is a wonderful story but the day was not easy for us,’ said Klopp. ‘We love these boys and it was clear we had to prepare something for them. The game was super-important but the first half was not great – we were too much in a rush and it was clear we had to calm down.’
After Jacob Ramsey had fired Villa ahead after 27 minutes, it was the arrival of Firmino and Milner that inspired Liverpool to gain a draw, though they are three points behind Manchester United with only one game left.
‘The two boys showed what we will miss,’ said Klopp with the duo leaving Liverpool at the end of the season along with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita.
Roberto Firmino bid an emotional farewell to Anfield on a day Jurgen Klopp (right) described as difficult
James Milner was also pictured saying his public farewell to his manager at the final home tie
‘I don’t want to underestimate Milly’s quality but this mentality he has, the way he comes into the game. Oh, my God. Whoever comes in next, he has set a really high bar.
‘How many games has he won for us in this way.’
Klopp had to watch the game from the stands after receiving a touchline ban for comments made last month about referee Paul Tierney.
And ironically he felt Liverpool were on the end of two bad calls. Aston Villa captain Tyrone Mings escaped with a yellow card after catching Cody Gakpo with a body-high challenge at the end of the first half and the Dutchman then had a goal ruled out because Virgil van Dijk had been offside in the build-up.
The last player to touch the ball before the Dutchman was Villa defender Ezri Konsa but VAR decided the touch was a deflection not deliberate.
‘I was surprised it was not a red card,’ said Klopp about the first incident. ‘Cody showed me (the wound) it looked like he was being sponsored by a certain brand with three marks on his body. It was a proper foul.
‘I asked why the offside goal was not given. They said it was a subjective decision and it was not in their view a deliberate touch by the Villa defender. I think it was.’
Firmino scored the crucial equaliser to secure a precious point in their bid for Europe next term
A risky challenge from Tyrone Mings on Cody Gakpo gave Klopp pause during the 1-1 draw
Referee John Brooks added 10 minutes of injury-time because of Villa timewasting that saw goalkeeper Emi Martinez pick up a seventh booking of the season.
Klopp sees it as a growing problem in the game.
‘It is an important thing to talk about,’ he said. ‘I tried to watch Sevilla-Juventus last week and when Sevilla were winning, all the ball boys had gone!
‘I think we have seen it in general too often this season. Even when a team is on the attack, you see players from the opposition going down.’