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Liverpool’s Belgian striker Divock Origi (right) celebrates scoring the opening goal during their English Premier League match against Sunderland at Anfield on November 26, 2016. PHOTO | PAUL ELLIS | AFP
Jurgen Klopp saluted the Anfield crowd after they willed Liverpool to a 2-0 victory against Sunderland.
Klopp’s side were involved in a war of attrition on Saturday as failed to break down Sunderland during the first half.
After the re-start, Reds boss Klopp ran down the touchline to implore the Kop to sing louder and it seemed to have the desired effect.
Liverpool remained patient as Sunderland repelled everything Klopp’s men could throw at them until Divock Origi’s 75th minute finish put the Reds on the path to a victory confirmed by James Milner’s 91st minute penalty.
The win was marred by a first half ankle injury to Brazil midfielder Philippe Coutinho which saw him stretchered off in clear agony.
Yet despite the hard-working nature of the win, Klopp was pleased — and praised the way the atmosphere improved and gave his side a lift when they needed it most.
“I don’t think I have ever played against a more defensive team,” said Klopp, whose side remain one point behind leaders Chelsea.
“They were man-marking against Coutinho and their striker Victor Anichebe was at left full-back.
“We all need to learn to handle a situation like this. We have a football situation and work on it but I believe in atmosphere — it is a big, big part of the game.
“The crowd was really good in the first half and second half it was like ‘come on we have waited long enough’.
“Atmosphere makes everything easier, I tried to remind the crowd and they reacted more than brilliant.”
The win made it 11 unbeaten in the Premier League for Liverpool and Klopp downplayed any worries about whether he can handle the pressure that comes with trying to end his club’s long title drought.
“The size of the club puts no pressure on me,” said Klopp.
“It is no pressure, a big joy, a big honour. I don’t think about the size every day or the greatness.”
The only downside for Liverpool from the contest was the first-half injury to Coutinho.
He was visibly distressed as he was stretchered off with his right leg in a temporary brace and Klopp accepts that he will have to wait to see how the Brazilian recovers in the next few days.
“We have to wait for the scan,” he said. “What we know it is something with the ankle. He had pain but pain gets better.
“In the first moment it was very painful but at half time he said it was better. I am quite an optimistic guy so I hope he can train tomorrow.”
Liverpool had 78 percent of the possession and 27 shots, compared to a paltry six from Sunderland, and that statistic tells the story of how they dominated this encounter.
Despite the loss, Sunderland’s fans should not be too downhearted and boss David Moyes was pleased with the way his men had managed to frustrate Liverpool, even if they could not quite hang on.
“I thought we’d got to the point where they needed the manager to get the crowd going,” Moyes said.
“We frustrated them for long periods. It was always going to be a difficult job coming here. They’re probably the best attacking team in the Premier League at the moment.
“We had to try and do a job but at the end it wasn’t enough. I think the difference in the quality between the two squads was the difference.”