Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp felt his side missed an opportunity to floor a dazed Manchester City despite the Reds seizing control of their Champions League quarter-final clash with a swashbuckling first-half showing.
Five-time conquerors of Europe Liverpool stunned the Premier League champions-in-waiting thanks to 19-minute blitz which saw the Merseysiders strike through Mohamed Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sadio Mane.
The atmosphere, like Liverpool’s performance, was intense, although the hostility boiled over pre-match when City’s team coach was attacked on its way to the stadium, prompting an apology from the hosts and investigation from Merseyside Police.
“The result is not what we expected but we needed to play more football in the second-half,” said Klopp, who played down concerns over 38-goal hitman Salah despite him being replaced in the second-half due to a groin problem.
“They did not have a lot of chances but we didn’t play much football ourselves, which does not make too much sense.
“The first-half was brilliant and how football should look. We defended City’s passes really well but I wanted us to play more football. I’m not angry, though.”
City manager Pep Guardiola, meanwhile, insists his charges are capable of overturning the three-goal deficit in the second leg on Tuesday.
“It is so difficult but we are going to try and play,” said Guardiola. “Nobody believes we can reach the semi-finals and of course it will be so tough, but we will try.”
Liverpool’s vicious assault began on 12 minutes when Salah smashed home from 10 yards after Roberto Firmino had initially been denied but persevered and snapped into a tackle to divert the ball into the Egyptian’s path.
City briefly threatened moments later as the Liverpool defence suicidally backed off, allowing the rampaging Leroy Sane to advance into dangerous territory, only for the German to drag his shot wide.
For the remainder of the half the Reds were irresistible and doubled their lead on 20 minutes when Oxlade-Chamberlain collected possession following a crunching James Milner tackle and lashed a stunning 25-yard effort beyond Ederson.
City were visibly buckling under the Liverpool press and shortly after the half-hour mark Mane powered a downward header from Salah’s inswinging cross beyond a helpless Ederson.
The visitors managed to stem the Liverpool tide in the second period, so much so that it was almost one-way traffic, albeit without City creating a clear-cut chance to net a priceless away goal.