Jurgen Klopp said Liverpool’s comeback win with 10 men at Newcastle was one of the best victories he has ever had as a manager – and the dramatic game was unlike any he has experienced in two decades of coaching.
Darwin Nunez scored two late goals off the bench in a smash-and-grab win for Liverpool, who had captain Virgil Van Dijk sent off for a last-man tackle on Alexander Isak in the first half and went a goal down after former Everton player Anthony Gordon scored.
And Klopp, who spent most of the match visibly furious at refereeing decisions, said this was perhaps his best win as a manager. Asked if that was the case, he said: ‘Definitely. It was more difficult than the Barcelona game (in which Liverpool overturned a 3-0 first-leg deficit).
‘In my 1,000 games as a coach I’ve never had a game like this. With 10 men in an atmosphere like this against an opponent like this, I am pretty sure it never happened. These moments are rare and super special.
‘I said at half-time that this (could be) really something we can tell our grandkids. I will see mine in 10 days and I will tell them. Two things were clear then: we cannot concede a second, Trent (Alexander-Arnold) cannot get another yellow card – and if that happens we have a chance.’
Virgil van Dijk was sent off for Liverpool in the first half for taking down Aleksander Isak
Darwin Nunez netted twice off the bench as Liverpool mounted an incredible comeback
Jurgen Klopp believes the win is one of the best of his managerial career
On match-winner Nunez, Klopp said the Uruguayan was fired up after not starting games and used this to his advantage to prove the manager wrong for his omission. ‘I just give him a hug and encourage him to try for the team,’ added the German boss.
‘He is not happy about not starting but you cannot have more than 11 players playing all the time so you have to have stability. Players are not happy. We need to create a new way to play football and Darwin can be a key part of that.
‘His key strengths are exceptional. Everything will be fine, it is just maybe it had to be like this. Let’s take it like that.’
Klopp was angered at Van Dijk’s sending off, and said: ‘I don’t think it is a red card, pretty much no contact but what can I say, the decision is made and I cannot change it. Would I whistle it in a training game? Definitely not… but there is a reason I am not a ref!’
A downbeat Eddie Howe was annoyed that his team capitulated against 10 men late in the game. ‘I would want them to be hurting,’ he said after the match. ‘We pride ourselves on trying to win and if we can’t then we do everything we can to draw the game.
‘And this is a game we shouldn’t have lost. My job is to calm everything down but from the first three games we have been very close but probably haven’t had the points we deserve. In hindsight you would always do things differently.
‘That is as painful as the game at Anfield last year (last-minute loss). I thought we played really well, the opening stages can’t be forgotten. I thought we were excellent, individual performances were strong and the sending off almost harmed us.
‘A second goal (for Newcastle) would change everything and we didn’t get it. When Nunez comes on they are looking for one moment and they got two.’