Manager Jurgen Klopp insists he does not blame goalkeeper Adrian for his mistake which allowed Atletico Madrid to forge the comeback that ended Liverpool’s reign as European champions.
The Reds had just gone ahead 2-1 on aggregate after Roberto Firmino scored in extra time to add to Georginio Wijnaldum’s opener when Adrian fluffed a kick to Joao Felix which allowed Marcos Llorente to score.
Llorente scored again and Alvaro Morata, another substitute, added a third in the 120th minute but it was Atletico’s first goal which killed the hosts’ momentum.
“He’s a man and he knows that’s how it is. We will not blame him for a second – what you (the media) do, I don’t know, but stay respectful, that would be really nice,” said Klopp, who lost his first two-leged European tie since becoming Liverpool manager in the club’s first home European defeat since 2014.
“He did not want to do that, he saved us in so many moments when he played. Since he’s here, he had super performances.
“This goal didn’t help tonight but that’s how it is. I said, if you lose a game you always lose for some (different) reasons.”
By contrast Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak had a brilliant night, keeping his side in the game as they came under siege in the second half.
“I think everybody who saw the game tonight knows that it could have been different. I loved our first 90 or 95 minutes, however long it was,” added Klopp.
“Our first, main mistake tonight was that we scored the second goal too late; we scored in extra time and not in the 90 minutes, so that was our fault.
“When you see a team like Atletico packed with world-class players in their positions and they play the way they play, it is the most difficult thing to do, to face. That’s how it is.
“We did exceptionally well, we played exactly in the spaces we have to play. I loved the football we played.
“We caused them more problems than probably people thought after the first game. Against a defensive set-up like that, to cause a team that many problems is really exceptional, so I loved that.”
Having reached the final in the last two seasons, winning a sixth European Cup in the summer, this was a frustrating end to Liverpool’s brilliant run in the competition.
“For two-and-a-half years we had an exceptional ride in the Champions League, we had party after party after party in the Champions League pretty much,” said Klopp.
“And tonight was a party, everything was set, it was great – crowd exceptional, the stadium, everything showed up in the best way.
“The boys delivered a super game, fought hard, played well and scored wonderful goals.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) March 11, 2020
“But we lost. That’s it. No impact on anything. Now we have more time to prepare the Premier League games.”
Atletico manager Diego Simeone paid tribute to his goalkeeper.
“He stopped every situation he had today but we also made it hard for their strikers to shoot,” he said.
“He saves games for us. Messi wins games for you up front and in goal people can win games for you as well. Oblak does that.
“Our fans will remember this and his performance for a long time.”