Jürgen Klopp embraces Lionel Messi after the Argentine scored twice against Liverpool at the Nou Camp
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Jürgen Klopp hailed the unstoppable Lionel Messi as Liverpool were left to attempt an Istanbul-style miracle to maintain their Champions League dream.
Messi’s status as the greatest player of all time was underlined with two late goals to shift the tie firmly in Barcelona’s favour. His second goal in the 3-0 victory was an extraordinary free-kick.
“In these moments he is unstoppable,” Klopp said. “We couldn’t defend the free-kick. What a strike.
“He’s a world-class player. The second goal was probably not the nicest in the career of Lionel Messi, but it shows his skills that he is even there in that moment.
“I knew before that Lionel was a world-class player and now I saw it again. I am not too surprised, to be honest.”
Liverpool have recovered from three-goal deficits before – not least in the 2005 final in Turkey. But Klopp was pessimistic about Liverpool’s chance of recovery in the Anfield second leg, saying the failure to score an away goal was pivotal.
“Because it is football yes but before this game we had a bigger chance, let me say it like this,” he said. “It is difficult. It is Barcelona and they can play for counter-attacks, which doesn’t help us a lot.
“Because it is football we should still try but it didn’t make our life easier. It is not the night to be mouthy and saying it was exactly what we wanted, if we score an early goal and all that s—. It will be another really difficult game.”
Liverpool had chances and hit the post, Klopp saying he was impressed with the performance but deflated by the result.
“I said that I am really proud of them, that I liked a lot of things about the game,” he said. “Whatever happens, these boys, I couldn’t be more proud of them. How brave they are, I just like it.
“It was a brave performance, very passionate, very lively. In a lot of moments creative, in a lot of moments direct, everyone was on their toes. I liked the game but it doesn’t really help.”
Liverpool now face double heartbreak in the space of a few days. They must beat Newcastle this weekend to retain hopes of winning the Premier League, but still look destined to miss out as Manchester City are two wins from the title.
“Obviously our season is for close, tight decisions. Three-one would be a better result and I would feel slightly different in this moment but it is 3-0,” Klopp said. “It showed we can have chances and these boys never give up. I love them but there is no party at the moment. We have to use that game for a lot of things but at the moment we are just disappointed about the result.
“There will be a moment when I can convince the boys again how important this game was for our development because I really think this was our best Champions League away performance.”