London: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was thrilled with his side’s late equaliser in their 1-1 draw against Chelsea at Anfield, but bemoaned his players’ lack of patience.
Eden Hazard’s fine finish for Chelsea in Wednesday’s Premier League game left Liverpool staring at a first home reverse since the 1-0 defeat by Manchester United on January 17.
However, an injury-time header from Christian Benteke ensured a point apiece and maintained the buoyant mood in the red half of the city.
Liverpool face Sevilla in the Europa League next Wednesday with both silverware and a Champions League place up for grabs and Klopp believes this result will provide his side with precious momentum and confidence.
But he wants his team to learn the art of remaining calm when everything is not quite going to plan.
“I said to my players after the game it was the most important game of the season because we could learn most from it,” said the German, whose side remain eighth, 10 points above Chelsea.
“We showed in the first 15 minutes what we are capable of. We were great — wonderful football, without scoring.
“But there was not enough faith in our own quality so we lost patience and when you lose patience in football it’s always difficult.
“Without patience, we lost formation. We had a lot of moments around the box when we shot when we should have passed.
“I love this stadium and atmosphere, but everybody lost patience tonight, the crowd too. It’s quite difficult to say ‘Be patient’ when everybody is shouting ‘Run!’
“We all don’t trust our quality. That’s what we have to learn. We can learn that in the future, and we will.”
Klopp praised Chelsea’s showing and accepted that the result could have gone in the other direction, but for a strong second-half defensive showing from his side.
He added: “They could have scored the second, but (goalkeeper) Simon Mignolet did brilliant and Kolo (Toure) and Dejan (Lovren) had one or two situations where they saved our lives.”
– Hazard’s ‘beautiful goal’ -Guus Hiddink is coming to the end of his temporary tenure as Chelsea manager, but he has succeeded in repairing some of the damage caused by the disastrous start to the season under Jose Mourinho.
He was close to pulling off an impressive Anfield win until Benteke intervened, but although he felt his side should have held on, he was satisfied with their display.
“Of course, it’s a big disappointment to concede in the last minute,” he said. “But I think Chelsea played the perfect game.
“Defensively, we were well organised and offensively we had the intensity to score a beautiful goal through Eden.
“We should have killed the game off and we had two or three chances, but even though they equalised, we can be satisfied with the performance of the team.”
Hazard’s goal was a delight — the winger weaving through a crowd of defenders before coolly beating Mignolet — and it confirmed that he is back to top form and fitness after a quiet season.
The Belgian has come in for an enormous amount of criticism for his anonymous showings this term and Hiddink believes he has more than answered his doubters.
“In every job you have criticism and it’s how you deal with it,” said Hiddink, who will give way to Italy manager Antonio Conte at the season’s end.
“It’s possible it can affect you. It’s always good to see the reaction and his reaction shows he’s capable of playing the way he played.
“You could see what he’s able to do and he’s gifted, talented and smart. He played with courage. He’s both fit and fresh and it’s a pleasure to see him that way.”