Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp sought out Arsenal hero Bernd Leno after the final whistle to jokingly admonish the German stopper for his stunning, penalty-saving performance at Anfield.
Klopp made nine changes to the Liverpool team that beat Arsenal 3-1 in the Premier League on Monday, but he still fielded a first-class forward line of Diogo Jota, Takumi Minamino and Mo Salah, in a bid to secure Liverpool’s passage to the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup.
However, Klopp was left frustrated – and impressed – by Leno’s masterclass, which included a string of world-class saves to keep the game at 0-0, followed by two stops in the penalty shootout, which Arsenal won 5-4.
‘I told him after the game I was not too happy about that!’ joked Klopp.
‘Both halves were good, but in the second half we shot him warm for the penalty shootout. Really good moments.
‘I wanted to win and I did not see too much wrong with our performance but it just did not work out for us. You have to score and we didn’t.’
Klopp looked like he feared the worst as the players prepared for the shootout when he pulled his snood up over his face, after Leno had pulled off two exceptional saves in the second half.
First there was a plunging dive down to his left to push a drive from midfielder Marko Grujic around the post.
And even better, Leno clawed away a shot from Jota after the forward, who was making his first start for the Reds, had controlled a long, flighted ball from youngster Curtis Jones.
Klopp was right to worry about the penalties. Divock Origi and Harry Wilson couldn’t find a way past the former Bayer Leverkusen keeper, before Joe Willock converted the decisive penalty for the Gunners.
But while Willock just about kept his nerve, Leno was the hero – and in Klopp’s bad books.