Jurgen Klopp has expressed his bemusement after Liverpool were on the wrong end of another questionable refereeing decision against Sheffield United, but praised his side’s resilience as they ground out a vital win.
Having taken just a point from their last two league games, Klopp’s side desperately needed to return to winning ways against the struggling Blades, but they had to grind to get there. They were 1-0 down within 13 minutes, after a lengthy VAR review deemed that Fabinho had fouled Oli McBurnie in the area.
Sander Berge converted the resulting spot-kick, but Roberto Firmino equalised before the break, and after Mohamed Salah had a potential winner ruled out for offside, Diogo Jota – starting on the left of an unconventional 4-2-3-1 – headed in the decisive goal.
“The penalty was not even a foul. During a season there are so many different periods, we have had an injustice and we have had to go again,” Klopp told BBC Sport. “I love these games, as you earn all of the rest. You earn the easier games when it all goes your way on nights like this.
“We struggled with McBurnie in the first half but we changed our positioning and won the second balls. We were dominating at 2-1 and had some really good football but then they came back.
“I’m not surprised at all, you always have to work hard against Sheffield United. It’s hard to take for Chris Wilder. They never give up, I respect that so much. They go and go and go. Chris is doing a wonderful job.”
He concluded: “I am only interested in the mentality in our changing room and I see hunger, resilience, character to dig in and win if you are not playing at your best. We showed we can dig in and see results out.”
The result propels Liverpool back to second in the Premier League table, having taken 13 points from a possible 18. This was also the first domestic fixture that the Reds have played without Virgil van Dijk, who’s season may be over after he sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Everton in the Merseyside derby.