Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp blasted his players after their Premier League title aspirations suffered a significant setback in a dramatic collapse at resurgent Bournemouth on Sunday.
The Reds were 3-1 up with 15 minutes to go through goals from Sadio Mane, Divock Origi and Emre Can but the Cherries rallied, with Ryan Fraser and Steve Cook adding to Callum Wilson’s earlier penalty before Nathan Ake bundled in a winner in stoppage time.
Victory would have equalled Liverpool’s best start to a Premier League season; instead, defeat ended an 11-match unbeaten run in the top flight and left them third, four points adrift of leaders Chelsea.
“We opened the door and they ran through it,” said Klopp, who has now seen his team blow a two-goal lead in four league games since he took charge in October last year.
“It’s a wonderful story if you’re not part of it on the wrong side. Today we were. We have to learn from it. At 2-0, we started to not play too well. The boys lost a bit of concentration. It was clear something could happen at half-time. We gave the game away because we didn’t play football any more.”
Howe hails supersub Fraser
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe praised the impact of substitute Fraser, who only came off the bench 10 minutes into the second half but promptly won a penalty and scored the team’s second goal.
“It took our substitutes to make an impact and liven us up. Ryan Fraser deserved that opportunity today,” said Howe, whose team climbed to 10th.
3-1 down, 4-3 up
Liverpool swept into a two-goal lead with customary ruthlessness, Mane poking in his seventh league goal from 13 games and Origi rounding Artur Boruc to thump in the second moments later.
Wilson gave the hosts hope on 56 minutes by sending Loris Karius the wrong way from the spot after James Milner felled Fraser, but Can soon curled in Mane’s lay-off to tighten the visitors’ grip again.
Fraser’s first top-flight goal – a low shot through a crowd – cut the gap once more and he teed up Cook to equalise with 12 minutes left, the when defender deftly controlling before prodding past Karius.
There was still time for further drama and Ake, on loan from Chelsea, provided it. Cook drove a low shot from 20 yards, Karius spilled it and the young Dutchman pounced to force the ball home.
Klopp refuses to blame Karius
Klopp nonetheless defended the German goalkeeper, who joined from Bundesliga outfit Mainz for around £5m in the summer, insisting the slip was not a reflection of his quality.
“We missed chances today,” he added. “Do we have good strikers? Yes, we do. The last goal was not easy for a goalkeeper. It says nothing about him as a goalkeeper. It happens, we go on.”