Napoli 2-0 Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp accuses Jose Callejon of diving to win ‘game changing’ penalty in opening Champions League defeat
Sept. 18, 2019
Jurgen Klopp was left frustrated by the diving antics of Napoli forward Jose Callejon after Liverpool were beaten 2-0 by Napoli in their Champions League opener.
The Reds looked on course to claim a respectable point in Italy, and were good value for it, before the hosts were awarded a late penalty for Andy Robertson’s apparent trip on Callejon.
But replays showed the Spaniard was already on his way down before any contact was made.
Klopp says the 82nd minutes spot kick, converted by Dries Mertens, completely changed the game, with Fernando Llorente sealing the victory with a stoppage-time strike after a mistake from Virgil van Dijk.
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Even though it’s not the start the defending champions would have wanted to their European campaign, the German boss was not displeased with his side’s performance and was left to rue the officials’ decision.
Liverpool manager Klopp said: “When we conceded to go 1-0 down that was the game changer. We have to accept the result.
“We are really critical of ourselves but it was not a really, really bad performance, it was a game which we could have won at Napoli but we didn’t because we didn’t score.
“We wanted to have at least a point and we didn’t get that because of the penalty. I’m pretty sure there are different views on that situation but when a player jumps before there is contact then it cannot be a penalty.
“But we cannot change that anymore so that’s how it is and now we carry on, that’s it.”
Although the penalty decision proved central to the outcome at the San Paolo Stadium, Klopp refused to be too critical of the process involving the video assistant referee as the new technology took centre stage again.
He added: “I could say a lot of things about it but then I would look like a bad loser. I’m not the best loser in the world but I’m not bad at it.
“It was very decisive in that moment for sure but we can’t change it. As long as human beings make the decisions then there is still potential for (mistakes). The rules are like this and we trust in the rules.”
Liverpool of course lost the same fixture between the two sides in last season’s group stage, and were then defeated in every away game before qualifying for the knockout stages ahead of Napoli by virtue of goals scored.
They then went on to lift the Champions League title for the sixth time in their history, a sign that this defeat may not be a huge setback for the Reds.
But Klopp believes Napoli are more than capable of going all the way this season.
He added: “They can win the competition. If you have a good plan and good players, which they obviously have, then they can win the competition. We experienced that.
“You don’t have to be the best team in the world to win the Champions League. You have to be there in the right moments and you have to be lucky in some situations.”