A disappointed Jurgen Klopp said the “really dry” Anfield pitch was partially to blame for Liverpool’s drab 0-0 home draw with Southampton that damaged their Champions League ambitions.
James Milner’s second-half missed penalty summed up an afternoon of frustration for Liverpool on Sunday as they failed to score against Southampton for the fourth time this season.
Liverpool knew that three wins from their remaining three matches would secure a top-four spot and Champions League football next season.
But Klopp’s side never got started against a Southampton team who had Fraser Forster to thank for a string of outstanding saves.
Third-placed Liverpool have now made qualifying for the Champions League more difficult than they would have wished and Klopp, who spent most of the second half ranting on the sidelines, struggled to hide his disappointment.
The Reds boss curiously insisted the poor quality of the Anfield surface had negatively affected his team’s performance.
“Nobody wants to hear it but the pitch was really dry today,” Klopp said.
“We gave all the water we had and after 15 minutes it was really dry, a lot of passes you could say, ‘Why are they playing this?’
“In a home game you have to have the best circumstances but we couldn’t have this.
“It is not nice to drop points at home but now we play away and then we have another home game.”
Liverpool’s top-four future is no longer entirely in their hands and Klopp accepted he was upset with how the match unfolded.
“It was a difficult game. Southampton played in a specific way,” he said.
“Some people will say everyone will play like this but they will not. We needed to score. They were very disciplined, very deep.
“It is all about scoring one and we couldn’t do this. It made life not easy. We tried until the end but today was one of these days.
“We have only one point more, we wanted to have three points more. It is not the end of the world but we are really disappointed.”
Liverpool needed to be firing on all cylinders against a Southampton side that were fixated on picking up a point and nothing else and it was to the credit of Claude Puel’s side that they held on.
Forster was the best player on the pitch at Anfield, diving low to stop Milner’s penalty and making a superb tip-over from Marko Grujic in the closing seconds.
Puel was thrilled his side responded so well following last week’s scrappy draw against Hull.
“It was important, I think after Hull City, to correct some things and I’m satisfied with this game,” he said.
“It was a fantastic game and it was strong defensively. It was important to play like this against a team with good qualities.
“It was difficult for us to counter-attack but it was a fantastic effort by the squad. We had good discipline and we got good reward for that.”