Jurgen Klopp got the reaction he wanted from his Liverpool players as they beat Wolves to reach the fourth round of the FA Cup thanks to a standout goal from Harvey Elliott.
It has been a difficult start to 2023 for Liverpool in general. They lost their first match of the calendar year to Brentford, before drawing with Wolves in the FA Cup third round in a game shrouded by refereeing controversy.
Although on another day they might have been eliminated then, they earned a replay. But they went into it on a negative note after losing to Brighton back in the league.
Yet at the fourth attempt, Liverpool finally won in 2023 when defeating Wolves in the cup replay on Tuesday night.
Elliott scored the only goal of the game in the 13th minute, dribbling the ball from his own half before striking the ball from outside the box to beat Jose Sa.
It was the best moment of quality in a game that was otherwise not as dramatic as the original fixture earlier this month.
Yet Liverpool needed any kind of win not only to progress in the cup that they won last season, but to get themselves back on track in the bigger picture.
And there seemed to be a sense of relief from Klopp after the full-time whistle.
In a post-match interview, he said on BBC One: “It feels like ages ago we had a feeling of winning and playing well. Yes, we had to fight hard in the end, of course, that’s the nature of the competition and in general of the game.
“It was an open game. We controlled it for a long period, played really good football, which is very important, defended super passionate, which is really important, and so yes, it’s great for the moment.
“It’s the reaction we wanted to see from ourselves and the boys delivered.”
Klopp notices compact midfield
Elliott naturally has drawn the headlines after his stunning goal. Klopp was delighted with his resilience in the match, but also spotted some other standout performances.
For example, he highlighted how young midfielder Stefan Bajcetic played his part in keeping Wolves’ most dangerous creators quiet.
Klopp continued: “It was good from Harvey Elliott, especially after an early knock to the ankle. He fought through and the goal was exceptional.
“I had a few man of the match performances today. We played a really good first half, had good periods in the second and in the end it was just passion to block the shots. A cup game, great.
“From the passion we showed, yes. It is my job to help the boys and find the formation where they feel good from the start.
“Stefan Bajcetic and the whole midfield was really compact so it was difficult for Wolves to find the key players like Joao Moutinho. I liked the game a lot.”
That will be encouraging for Klopp when his midfield has generally come under so much scrutiny this season.
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Harvey Elliott reacts to match-winning performance
Elliott earned the player of the match award, despite Klopp suggesting there were several candidates who would have been worthy.
The match-winner also spoke to the media in the aftermath. He is hoping that Liverpool can use this slim success as a springboard for some bigger and better wins.
Asked if Liverpool got the deserved outcome, Elliott said: “Definitely. A good turnaround after the last few results but tonight is a stepping stone for the next couple of games.
“It was the perfect way to go into the next game and hopefully we can put the form right at Anfield.”
The 19-year-old has now scored four times this season. Indeed, adding goals and assists to his game is something he has been focusing on.
Therefore, his decision to go for goal rather than pass to James Milner in space became fully justified.
Elliott added: “I have been judged a bit on assists and goals and it is something I have been working on and it came off today. Personally, I have felt I have not been at my best form after the World Cup but a confidence booster tonight.
“Milly was screaming ‘shoot’ as well so I had to go for it. Maybe he can encourage me a bit more to shoot because it definitely worked.
“The fans are a big help, by our side and thanks to them for sticking by us. We have the best fans in the world and we have to perform to the best of our abilities and out a show on for them.”
Liverpool’s reward for their win over Wolves will be a fourth-round clash with Brighton. It will give them a chance to right the wrongs of their most recent meeting in the Premier League.
Elliott concluded: “It will be another tough game. We were not good enough against them and hopefully we can go in full of confidence.”
Before then, Liverpool will be back in Premier League action on Saturday against fellow strugglers, Chelsea.
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The article Klopp credits fringe Liverpool star for limiting key Wolves man after FA Cup progress, as ‘exceptional’ Elliott also earns praise appeared first on Teamtalk.com.