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Saturday 24 September 2016

Ronnie Whelan: Clever Jurgen pulls off smash and grab in Dortmund

Jurgen Klopp issues instructions during last night’s game Photo: AFP/Getty
Jurgen Klopp issues instructions during last night’s game Photo: AFP/Getty
Jordan Henderson Photo: Reuters

Put this one down to the manager. Jurgen Klopp put sentiment to one side, worked out a way for Liverpool to rein in Borussia Dortmund and did it with the intimate knowledge he had of the players he brought to the Westfalenstadion.

He gave his players the tools to match the form team in Europe and you have to be impressed by that, especially given the doubts I had in my own mind, shared by many, about what might happen.

Many of the concerns I had before the game were answered fairly emphatically in the opening 45 minutes.

There were moments when Dortmund looked capable of ripping Liverpool open in the same, high energy, precise way they shredded Spurs.

But Sakho stepped up to the plate and did pretty much the opposite of what I would have expected from him and put in a series of excellent blocks. It was just what was needed and a sign that this would not be a brittle Liverpool on show.

One way of viewing this game would have been to see Dortmund as Liverpool might be under Klopp in two or three years time. No fewer than nine of his players started the game for the home side.

I had that in my mind while I was watching Liverpool working the first part of the Klopp way well by pressing Dortmund high up the pitch but more often than not, fail on the second and most important part - keeping the ball.

Dortmund pressed too but they were able to hold possession and then build. That's why Sakho was forced to defend for his life. Luckily for Liverpool, he was in the right humour to do it.

I was watching the clock and thinking it would be a nice position if they could reach the break scoreless when Daniel Origi repaid Klopp's faith with a priceless away goal.

Hummels equaliser was a blow and a reminder that Klopp can't be on the pitch to stop rampaging central defenders walk through his defence and help himself to a free header.

But again, when I was expecting Liverpool to at least creak, they attacked and peppered Roman Weidenfeller with a series of shots.

That was the immediate response but as the half wore on, Liverpool dropped further back and in a reasonably organised way. Dortmund began to look a bit baffled by it all, maybe beginning to understand how good a job Klopp had done on them.

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