James Pearce has said that Jurgen Klopp’s substitutions ‘didn’t work’ as Liverpool exited the Champions League last night.
The Reds faced a tall order away to Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, needing to overturn a three-goal deficit from the first leg, and in truth didn’t come close to pulling off a remarkable comeback, instead sinking to a 1-0 defeat in Spain.
Aside from a couple of first-half shots from Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo, the visitors never truly looked like scoring even one goal, never mind three, while those who were brought on during the second half couldn’t make a telling impact on the game.
It was something that Pearce highlighted in a full-time summary of the match in a Q&A for The Athletic, stating: “Talk about going out with a whimper. Such a flat performance from Liverpool. Second half was really poor. Substitutions didn’t work. Far too easy for Real.”
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Klopp’s first roll of the dice came on 57 minutes as Diogo Jota and Nunez were withdrawn for Harvey Elliott and Bobby Firmino respectively, with the Uruguayan’s exit leaving Liverpool Echo journalist Paul Gorst baffled.
The English teenager at least managed one shot on target, but the Brazilian didn’t have a shot of any description in more than half an hour on the pitch (as per Sofascore) – not ideal when the Reds were desperately in need of goals.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was next to enter the fray in the 73rd minute as he replaced James Milner. The 29-year-old did manage a 100% success rate for duels and dribbles (Sofascore) but produced nothing of note to overly worry Real Madrid in the final 20 minutes or so.
As stoppage time began and with Liverpool’s fate well and truly sealed, Fabio Carvalho and Kostas Tsimikas both got a brief runout, although there was still enough time for the Greek defender to pick up a yellow card.
Of the unused substitutes, only Naby Keita and Curtis Jones were neither defenders nor goalkeepers, an indicator of the limited attacking prowess that Klopp could call upon to change a game which never ignited for the visitors.
Nonetheless, as Pearce says, the substitutions didn’t really work out in the way that the manager and Reds supporters would’ve wanted, even though a comeback seemed hugely improbable by the time the first changes were made.
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