Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp thought the better team didn't win on Tuesday night, as his Reds failed to “use” their chances in the FA Cup replay against West Ham United before conceding a last-minute goal in extra time to lose 2-1.
Klopp described the loss as “hard” and in line with all of the setbacks his side has faced in the last few weeks―although he's sure better times are on the horizon, per Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail:
It’s hard. We were the better team, we created chances and we didn’t use them.
We are Liverpool and at this moment it is not the most sunny side, 2-0 in the lead (against Sunderland before drawing 2-2 on Saturday), manager in the hospital, things like this, out of the FA Cup... but tomorrow the sun will shine and we can take a lot of positives out of this game.
Michail Antonio and Philippe Coutinho both scored in regulation, but the Reds missed a number of chances to win the match and were forced to battle it out with the Hammers in extra time.
The introduction of Daniel Sturridge after 60 minutes did little to improve Liverpool's efficiency in front of goal and Christian Benteke in particular stood out for his wastefulness. With seconds left to play before a possible penalty shootout, the Reds paid dearly as Angelo Ogbonna's header sent West Ham through to the fifth round.
The Italian scored after a controversial free-kick was handed to the hosts, and Klopp wasn't sure whether the goal should have stood: “There were a lot of situations, I would say funny decisions. So I don’t think it was a free-kick, but I’d have to see it again. That’s it.”
Per Kristian Walsh of the Liverpool Echo, Klopp said the entire team was “very disappointed,” but the German did see some positives as well:
It's better to create chances and miss than not create chances, if we want we can see a positive. We can rest a lot of players now, we have the first match day when we are not involved.
Maybe we will play then with Everton or something like this which we can't play because of the League Cup final.
But we have to use time, we have to make steps, that's what we did until now.
The return of Coutinho and Sturridge should provide the Reds with a major boost in the coming weeks, with the latter finally having the opportunity to impress his new manager in more than just a handful of training sessions.
Per Walsh, it marked just the first time since Klopp took the job the England international and Benteke shared the pitch together, and the Liverpool boss plans to be careful with Sturridge:
Tomorrow is recovery. It was great – Coutinho was back, Origi was back too – but we need consistency in the line-up. We need things that we want to change, not that we have to change. You saw the game so write what you saw, not what I say.
We have to talk first, with Daniel and the medical staff before we make decisions about this [his next step].
He also defended Benteke's ineffectiveness in front of goal, saying the Belgian worked hard and just missed the “maximum finish” in the attacking third, before reserving special praise for youngsters Jon Flanagan, Brad Smith and Tiago Ilori.
The team's FA Cup exit does give them the chance to take some time off in the coming weeks and grab some much-needed rest.
With the UEFA Europa League still on the schedule, it's a major boost to a squad that has dealt with injuries and been overworked in the coming weeks. Getting healthy has to be Klopp's first priority at this point, and playing fewer matches can only help in that regard.
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