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Salah strike can’t take edge off Klopp’s Baggies pain

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp gestures on the touchline during their English Premier League match with West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns on Saturday.AFP
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp gestures on the touchline during their English Premier League match with West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns on Saturday.AFP

Salah strike can’t take edge off Klopp’s Baggies pain

Jurgen Klopp saw Mohamed Salah set yet another Liverpool goalscoring record in his extraordinary season but the painful loss of two points in a 2-2 draw away to West Bromwich Albion left the manager less than enthusiastic about his afternoon at The Hawthorns on Saturday.

Salah scored Liverpool’s second goal as they amassed what looked like a commanding 2-0 lead against the Premier League’s bottom club, taking his tally for the season to 41 in 46 games across all competitions and equalling the Liverpool record for the most goals in a Premier League campaign – 31 scored by Luis Suarez four years ago.

Klopp also saw Danny Ings score his first goal since October 2015 to make it 1-0 but, after conceding two late goals to West Brom and with an eye on Tuesday’s Champions League semifinal first leg with Roma, the Liverpool boss was in no mood to celebrate yet another achievement from the Egyptian.

“Of course I was happy for him,” said Klopp. “But like Mo, first of all we all want to win football games. That’s why I would have loved to talk about this little detail if we won the game but we didn’t.”

Ings, starting just his second league game since October 2015 following two cruciate knee ligament injuries that left his career in jeopardy, was on the mark after just four minutes.

‘Strange situation’

Sadio Mane crossed into the six-yard area where Georginio Wijnaldum laid the ball into the path of Ings, who drove home convincingly.

“It was always clear that if Danny is fit and healthy and Danny can keep the intensity in training, as he has been doing for a long time, that he will then score goals,” said Klopp.

“So it was really nice that he could do that, and he was really a threat. The second chance was really big and I am sure he would have scored in another situation. Now after a little rain he will score!”

That second chance that fell to Ings saw him head over as the ball bounced up off the dry surface and left German manager Klopp launching a bizarre post-match complaint about the fact Albion had not watered the surface before kick-off.

“I know what people will think about it if I say it, but the pitch got drier and drier, which is not an advantage for the football-playing side,” said Klopp.

“I’m a big football fan. You have to try to do everything to make the best circumstances for all the boys to deliver. But we let the home team decide whether they water the pitch or not.”

There were no problems about Liverpool’s second in the 71st minute when Salah moved five goals clear of Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane in the race for the Premier League’s Golden Boot award.

Substitute Roberto Firmino headed on a long punt from Loris Karius, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain playing in Salah, who finished clinically by lifting the ball over the keeper from eight yards.

But Klopp was left to face an anxious finale when Albion pulled a goal back in the 78th minute as Chris Brunt’s corner was headed back across goal by Jay Rodriguez and, after a Craig Dawson shot had been saved, Jake Livermore rammed home the loose ball.

And in the 88th minute Albion, shock winners at Manchester United last week, equalised when Salomon Rondon arrived ahead of Dejan Lovren to head in Brunt’s free-kick.

Klopp, who rested five players ahead of Tuesday’s Anfield semi-final with Roma, also complained about a Dawson challenge on Ings, which might have brought a penalty, and what appeared to be a punch by Ahmed Hegazi on the same striker.

“I don’t think that point will help West Brom massively, so it feels like a waste of points really,” Klopp said.

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