Jurgen Klopp described Liverpool’s 1-0 win over Ajax as “one of the biggest European nights” of his time in charge of the club.
The Reds secured their place in the last 16 of the Champions League with a narrow victory over the Dutch champions at Anfield, with Klopp’s team down to the bare bones following a series of injuries to key players.
Alisson Becker emerged as Liverpool’s latest injury concern before kick off, with Irish goalkeeper Caoimhín Kelleher handed his debut for the club. Curtis Jones scored the winner as Neco Williams kept his place in the side after conceding a penalty against Brighton on Saturday.
“Honestly since I was at Liverpool that feels like one of the biggest Champions League nights,” Klopp told BT Sport. “Without supporters in, it was the most important, most difficult, most exceptional. There hasn’t been much to smile about, and the boys threw themselves into the game.”
Klopp offered an explanation for his selection of Kelleher over usual second-choice goalkeeper Adrian, highlighting the young Irishman’s ability on the ball.
“I really think Adrian has done a fantastic job for us, he kept a lot of clean sheets, played everywhere,” said the German. “But now we needed the natural football playing ability of Caoimhin Kelleher. He is a good shot stopper as well. Really happy with how calm he was and how good he was.”
The Liverpool manager also had praise for Williams, who suffered a difficult afternoon in the 1-1 draw against Brighton. “We had a long talk with Neco Williams this week, we think he has more in the locker than he has shown so far,” Klopp said.
“Neco was not in the best shape but he’s on the big stage. Tonight he showed glimpses. He can be so much better still.”
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