Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp performs U-turn on Europa League after Leicester win

In pictures: Leicester v Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp insists it is “great” that Liverpool have secured qualification for next season’s Europa League despite making his reluctance to be involved in UEFA’s second-tier competition clear on a couple of occasions this term. The Reds will finish no lower than sixth after thrashing relegation-threatened Leicester 3-0 away from home on Monday night.

Curtis Jones scored twice in three first-half minutes to put the visitors firmly in control at the King Power Stadium with the Foxes booed off at the break. And Trent Alexander-Arnold whipped in a fantastic free-kick to make it 3-0 after the interval before Mohamed Salah squandered a chance to make it four. 

The victory moves Liverpool one point behind both third-placed Newcastle and Manchester United in fourth. The two teams above them each have one extra game to play but the Reds – who have now won seven in a row in the league – have kept their top-four hopes very much alive.

The Merseyside outfit will now avoid an embarrassing drop into the newly-created third-tier Europa Conference League next season. And the German manager labelled it “great” that Liverpool will at least be in the Europa League in 2023-24 despite a few times making it clear that he much prefers the Champions League.

Don’t miss…
Man Utd chiefs fear Glazers are ruining Erik ten Hag’s transfer plans[LATEST]

Asked if his team’s win was satisfying, Klopp told Sky Sports: “Very. Very much so. Needed 15 minutes, around about, to figure out how we can build up and how we can control, how we can build up controlled. Then we were flexible enough and got everyone on the ball facing the other goal, passing through the lines and mixing it up with the long balls.

“How we pushed up and arrived there with passing was really good. Sensational first goal, top second goal, the passing again. We should have scored pretty much immediately after again. Who missed that? Cody [Gakpo]? The boys are in a good moment.

“Between 55 and 75, it was a bit too open for me. We didn’t control it that much anymore, we can do that much better. But Leicester wanted to put a proper fight in and we avoided that most of the time. The high press was good for putting them under pressure and picking up second balls was really good.

“The boys were really, really focused on the necessary stuff. The third goal, what a wonderful little routine, love it. So it’s a good win – super important for us. With that we are definitely playing the Europa League next year which is great.

“Now we have two more games to come. Difficult games, Aston Villa, my God, they play a super second half of the season! And they fight for Europe as well. It will be tricky. But for tonight I’m really happy.”

That comes after Klopp last month said Europa League football would be “fine” but admitted Liverpool do not start the season thinking of playing in the competition. He said: “It’s not that we started the season and said if we can qualify for the Europa League it would be fantastic, but the season taught us a few things, and that’s absolutely fine. If it’s Europa League, it’s Europa League.”

And in February he also said: “It’s Liverpool! No-one asks me if we can make the Europa League, it’s incredibly important we qualify [for the Champions League]. It’s always so important and this year will be decided later if we can do it. We need points for that.”

Liverpool end their season against Aston Villa, at home, and away against already-relegated Southampton. If they win both matches they will end on 71 points. Newcastle and Man United both have 66 points but have a further nine left to play for.

Source: Read Full Article