Cape Town - Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was relieved to avoid extra
time as they secured their spot in the Club World Cup final.
The Reds boss admits he did not see the Brazil international
Roberto Firmino sweep home in the first minute of added time for a 2-1 win over
Monterrey in the semi-final as there were too many of his own players preparing
to celebrate in front of him.
But he knew it was a crucial goal as it spared his players,
many of whom have featured in the majority of the 27 games before this outing
in Doha, 30 more minutes of physical exertion - and also killed off the
Mexicans' chances of springing a surprise.
Firmino converted a cross from another of Klopp's
substitutes Trent Alexander-Arnold for the winner, after Naby Keita's third
goal in as many games was quickly cancelled out by Rogelio Funes Mori, twin
brother of former Everton defender Ramiro.
"I was actually afraid of extra time, so I was more than
happy that Bobby scored that goal," said Klopp. "We had to do a few
changes because we had no other options, but we wanted to do some other changes
which meant we left Trent, Bobby and Sadio (Mane) off."
Monterrey, the CONCACAF Champions League winners, made life
difficult for a below-par Liverpool but there were mitigating factors as an illness
to Virgil Van Dijk meant Joe Gomez was the one fit centre-back and the hole
left by the Dutchman was filled by midfielder Jordan Henderson.
It was far from ideal, but Klopp had little options with
Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren, Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum all injured and
youngsters Ki-Jana Hoever and Sepp Van Den Berg en route from England after
their Carabao Cup exploits.
Meanwhile, Liverpool have made a late decision to fly
16-year-old Harvey Elliott to Qatar after the injury he sustained impressing
against Aston Villa was not deemed serious.
Three of his team-mates on Tuesday night - Hoever, Van Den
Berg and Caoimhin Kelleher - were already on their way and now Elliott will
Elliott, Hoever and Van Den Berg were named in the official
23-man squad so will be eligible to face Flamengo in Saturday's final, but
Kelleher will not as he was not on the original list.
- TeamTalk Media