Jürgen Klopp says Liverpool were denied penalty in loss to Southampton
Claude Puel said Southampton’s ambitions in the EFL Cup were “not finished” after reaching their first major final for 14 years with a dramatic victory over Liverpool.
Shane Long struck an injury-time winner to secure a 1-0 win for Southampton at Anfield and a 2-0 semi-final triumph on aggregate. The Liverpool manager, Jürgen Klopp, insisted his team should have had a penalty for handball by the match-winner and that wasteful finishing, but not the overall performance, was responsible for a second consecutive damaging home defeat. “Long’s handball was clear,” said Klopp, who admitted there was no foul on Divock Origi inside the area moments before Southampton broke for the winner. “I don’t want to make excuses but it is really hard to accept these things week by week by week.
“A big game against Manchester United and they are two or three yards offside [before Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s equaliser] and nobody speaks about it. Is it my job to get a fine by speaking about these things? The handball was obvious.”
Southampton’s victory maintained their impressive record of beating Premier League teams without conceding a goal en route to Wembley. Manchester United or Hull City await in next month’s final but Puel was adamant the club would not be satisfied with a day out at the national stadium.
“It is fantastic. I am happy for all the squad because they have worked so hard since the beginning of the season and with games every three days it has been very difficult,” said Puel. “They have played really well at times without reward and so it is fantastic to win this game and reach Wembley. I am happy for the staff, the players and the fans, who were fantastic. It is a great reward but it is not finished. It is exciting and fantastic to go to Wembley but we are not going just to participate, it is important we win the final.
“It will be a big, important game for the club. Not just because it is a final but because it is a chance to qualify for Europe again. It is important for this club to continue improving and it would be good to know quickly it has the opportunity to play in Europe again. The experience of this season would be important.”
The Southampton manager gave Jack Stephens only his sixth appearance for the club in the heart of defence after the usual captain, Virgil van Dijk, was ruled out through injury, and the England Under-21 international excelled.
“Jack had a very good game,” added Puel. “It was difficult because he has not had a lot of experience but he played with good spirit, he was calm and he looked like a mature, experienced player. It was interesting to see him play for the under-21s and good to put him in the team because it is important for Southampton to improve these players. It is important for all the trainers at the academy, congratulations to them.”
The Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster produced a remarkable save to claw the ball off his goal-line having fumbled Emre Can’s shot. He admitted: “The footballing gods were with me tonight. Just that little bit of luck we needed. We’ll take that and see what happens in the final.”
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