Jurgen Klopp was visibly frustrated with his Liverpool players after they threw away victory at the death for the second successive Premier League match, drawing 1-1 with Newcastle at Anfield on Saturday afternoon. Joe Willock’s 95th minute equaliser off of the bench dealt a major body blow to the Reds’ hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League, leaving them sat sixth, and Klopp warned: “We learn or we don’t play Champions League.”
Mohamed Salah put Liverpool 1-0 up inside just three minutes with a terrific finish on the turn, but from then on the hosts could not take advantage of Newcastle’s openness at the back.
Liverpool wasted a succession of clear-cut opportunities despite all of their four main forwards – Salah, Diogo Jota, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino – being on the pitch from the start.
The quartet had 16 of Liverpool’s 22 shots at goal, compared to Newcastle’s seven as an entire team, but they could not help add to Salah’s early opener despite their countless openings.
And they were made to pay as the Magpies overcame the disappointment of having a late Callum Wilson goal ruled out by VAR for an accidental handball with the on-loan Arsenal midfielder Willock proved the hero yet again for Steve Bruce.
Just minutes after Wilson’s goal was ruled out, Willock latched on to a flick on to fire a deflected effort beyond Alisson as Newcastle secured a second draw of the season against Liverpool.
That meant the soon-to-be-dethroned English champions gave up three points late on for the second straight match, having also drawn 1-1 against Leeds on Monday, to waste an excellent chance to move into fourth and put pressure on top-four rivals Chelsea and West Ham.
And Klopp told BT Sport post-match: “Definitely [it feels like a defeat]. I don’t think you can create much more chances, better chances, to finish the game off. We didn’t finish the game off.
“We didn’t play enough. It was not complicated, with a few passes we came through [the Newcastle lines], we just had to do that again and again. They had from time to time a counter-attack, that can happen.
“We had to keep going but we kept them alive. They deserved the goal. They scored the one before that was unlucky. We don’t even take this present. It doesn’t happen a lot that we get lucky with VAR.
“We gave it away and that makes no sense. It’s really tough to take.”
Liverpool had more shots on target against Newcastle than they mustered in their 7-0 Selhurst Park win over Crystal Palace back in December.
There was a sense of inevitability to the visitors’ late leveller as Liverpool cracked under the pressure.
And Klopp added: “We have to keep the ball. In a specific way, we don’t fight enough. To keep ourselves in a position where you dominate the game.
“We had 70 per cent of the ball and should have had 80 per cent. We create a lot of chances and didn’t score, we had to create more and then use them.
“We don’t do that well in the moment, I have to say. In the end it’s deserved. They fought for it, they got it. We got a point but it feels like a defeat.
“If you deserve it, you deserve it. I didn’t see that we deserved to play Champions League next year. Another five games, we will see what we can do. We learn or we don’t play Champions League.”
Liverpool, who take on Manchester United at Old Trafford next up, are one point behind both Chelsea and West Ham, who take each other on at the London Stadium tonight (5.30pm kick-off).
The Merseyside club also face Southampton, relegation-battling duo West Brom and Burnley and then Crystal Palace in their run-in between now and May 23.