Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said Stoke City went back to their long ball style of play during Tuesday’s League Cup semi-final at Anfield and that his team struggled against the direct style of play.
Liverpool has a 1-0 aggregate lead going into last night’s second leg, but Marko Arnautovic’s strike in the 45th minute put the game back on level terms and Liverpool needed a penalty shoot-out to defeat a spirited Stoke outfit.
Veteran striker Peter Crouch was given a rare start and this signalled Stoke’s intent to switch to a more direct style of play by using the long ball to Crouch upfront.
“It was a special game, I think a good game from my side against a side who are real difficult to play [against].” Klopp told Sky Sports.
“I heard they changed their style [under Hughes], but today they played old Stoke football I would say.”
“From [goalkeeper Jack] Butland to Crouch, it was really, really difficult to defend in our situation and so we had a few problems but I don’t think they had too many opportunities.”
Klopp felt his team were unlucky to concede what looked to be an offside goal.
“The goal I think everybody knows it was double offside and that is unlucky for us, but the team struck back again and did really well.”
“At the end in a penalty shoot-out you always need luck and we had it.”
“I think over the whole 120 minutes with all the games in our legs from the last month, the players really deserved it, the crowd deserved it, and Liverpool deserved it.”
“It is a great moment for us, it feels great. Hard work, but it is never easy to make a final so I take this game for what it is – difficult, but deserved.” he concluded.
Liverpool could find themselves up against rivals Everton in the final should they defeat Manchester City tonight.