Jurgen Klopp says reaching his fourth Champions League final as a manager felt almost like a new experience as his Liverpool side came back from two goals down against Villarreal to secure a 5-2 aggregate win in their semi-final.
Liverpool, which was leading 2-0 from the first leg in England last week, was rocked by two first-half goals from the Spanish side on Tuesday night, local time.
However, three second-half strikes secured the Reds’ spot in a third Champions League final in five seasons under the German.
“It feels like the first in 20 (years),” Klopp, who led Borussia Dortmund to the final of the competition in 2013, told BT Sport.
“It’s outstanding, because we obviously made it a little tricky for ourselves, but we knew these kind of things could happen.”
— Andy Robertson (@andrewrobertso5) May 3, 2022
Klopp joins Miguel Munoz, Sir Alex Ferguson, Carlo Ancelotti and Marcello Lippi as the only managers to lead their teams to the final of Europe’s top club competition on four occasions.
Liverpool heads to the final in Paris to face either Real Madrid or Manchester City, who play their second leg in Madrid on Wednesday with City holding a slender 4-3 lead on aggregate.
The Merseysiders were shocked by Villarreal’s aggressive man-marking in the first half which took them out of their own pressing game, and the coach conceded that he struggled to find highlights from the opening 45 minutes to show his players.
— Villarreal CF English (@VillarrealCFen) May 3, 2022
“We knew what was wrong because it was obvious, but we didn’t have a situation to show them where we got it right,” Klopp explained.
“I said (to my staff) ‘find one where we do it well and we can show it’, and we come in and they said ‘no, we don’t have it’.”
The introduction of Colombian winger Luis Diaz at the break seemed to liven up Liverpool’s attack as Fabinho, Diaz and Sadio Mane scored the goals that got them into the final.
“Obviously Luis, what a player he is, but it’s not about who came on, it was about how we started to play,” Klopp added.
The 54-year-old said he had no preference for who his team would face in the final on May 28, saying “whoever it will be, it will be massive”.