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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp prefers to look at positives after Champions League play-off win over Hoffenheim

Manager concedes not being happy to see his team giving away late goal, but he has high praise for Alexander-Arnold after 2-1 away win.

Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold, left, celebrates scoring his team's first goal against Hoffenheim on Tuesday night. Ralph Orlowski / Reuters
Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold, left, celebrates scoring his team's first goal against Hoffenheim on Tuesday night. Ralph Orlowski / Reuters

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is happy to be bringing a lead back to Anfield for the second leg of their Uefa Champions League play-off against Hoffenheim despite another late defensive lapse.

A first strike for 18-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold on his European debut - after Simon Mignolet had saved an early penalty - and a Havard Nordtveit own goal had put the Reds in control in Germany, only for them to allow Mark Uth to score three minutes from time.

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Having conceded a late goal to draw at Watford on Saturday there was more defensive frustration but Klopp settled for holding an advantage heading into next week's return fixture.

Klopp pleased as punch

"If somebody told me we would win we would take each result - even an 8-7 - and so I am happy about the result," he said. "No I'm not happy with the goal they scored but I think they deserved the goal for their effort over the 90 minutes.

"Yes they had their moments, especially when they changed a little bit their style of play, but we were very offensive on both wings, and that left Trent and Alberto [Moreno] alone."

Klopp was keen to praise the confidence of Alexander-Arnold, on only his 14th senior appearance, for taking the free-kick rather than dwell on the youngster's role in the concession of Hoffenheim's goal.

Try translating that!

The Reds manager has been encouraging the right-back to develop his set-piece expertise and it has paid off quickly.

"I have to say, for an 18-year-old to have the balls to kick a free-kick is better than the mistake," he said. "He is an incredible young player. It was actually because I told him he had to do it - he was the only one who can. He can shoot free-kicks better than I ever could.

"I told him because I watched him many times for Under 23s last season and he took the free-kicks - and the goal is the same size.

'There is a big challenge after training for free-kicks between him and Ben Woodburn [the club's youngest scorer who does not turn 18 until October].

"It helps if the manager tells him (to take it). It was very important and very good for us."

Wijnaldum on Alexander-Arnold free-kick

Hoffenheim manager Julian Nagelsmann felt his side were unfortunate to lose.

"I feel we played a really good match, especially in the first half and had the better, clearer chances," he said. "We had two good chances with [Serge] Gnabry and the penalty, which was a bit unlucky.

"We didn't allow loads of counter-attacks and then came the free-kick - and that was unlucky for us.

"The second goal Milner let himself celebrate but the shot was deflected so it was unlucky.

"We weren't the worst team but the least lucky."

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