Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits qualifying for the Champions League “doesn’t look likely” heading into their clash with rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford next weekend.
The Reds threw away a golden chance to at least temporarily move into the top four by drawing 1-1 with Newcastle at Anfield on Saturday.
Joe Willock scored a 95th minute equaliser that Klopp admitted was deserved despite his side missing a succession of clear-cut goalscoring opportunities in either half.
Victory would have lifted Liverpool beyond both Chelsea and West Ham but they could not add to Mohamed Salah’s terrific third-minute effort at the Anfield Road End.
It looked as though the Merseyside club would be afforded a reprieve after Callum Wilson had a goal ruled out for handball at the death, before the on-loan Willock again scored a game-changing goal off of the bench.
Liverpool threw away victory for the second successive match having also drawn 1-1 late on with Leeds at Elland Road on Monday.
And a frustrated Klopp – who started all of Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota against the Magpies – admits his side’s hopes of having Champions League football next term are fading.
They head to Old Trafford to face the second-placed Red Devils, who are 12 points ahead of them with a game in hand and whom they have beaten just once in their last 15 meetings in Manchester across all competitions.
“We play Man Utd away, so it doesn’t look likely [for top four],” the German told his post-match press conference, with Liverpool having lost at Old Trafford in the FA Cup fourth round in January.
“We have to become a tricky team to play against. We have nothing to lose anymore, that’s the situation.
“The top four is all about results we can change [for other teams]. With this kind of game, you don’t get them. Against the bottom six we have five points which is not OK. with all respect.
“Newcastle deserved a point. It was pretty much the first time we were lucky with VAR but we didn’t even take that. We gave them another one.
“We played on quite a while [after the disallowed goal]. It was a massive warning sign. We let the ball in the box. We were too deep. A lot of things can then happen.”
He added: “I need time to be frustrated and angry. When it is all over, we go again. We go again in training. It’s just about you can see we were positives but we missed chances.
“In our situation, it is tough to accept. We scored with the first chance but then missed second, third, fourth and the confidence drops.
“In tricky moments, things don’t go your way. No drop-off is allowed. We missed chances, that is just information.
“The second half didn’t start as well as the first ended. We are very critical of ourselves. We have to work for this. We just need to control the game. We didn’t do that well enough.”
Midfielder Thiago Alcantara meanwhile told Liverpool’s official website post-match: “We could for sure have scored a lot of goals in the first half but at the end, you are dominating the game, winning 1-0 so you have to close the game with 1-0. It’s the essence of the sport.
“Your aim is to win and we didn’t deserve to win this game because we conceded. It creates for sure a disappointment in the team [when chances aren’t taken].
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“We were in a high energy bringing the game in the first half, with chances. And when we don’t score it looks like the team comes down.
“But it didn’t happen – we tried to be in the mindset for the second half but we didn’t come through as we have to.
“We scored very early and then we had plenty of chances to score more.
“If we score twice, the game opens for us and if we score we feel more comfortable with our game as well and the other team opens and we can even score more. But it is what it is. When you don’t score, you [can] concede.
“It was a big chance but to be in the Champions League we have to deserve it. Every game is huge for us.
“It’s a great chance to be there, but we are not taking the chances to be in the top [four]. Now we just have to rest a bit, rethink, and review this game because it will be a tough game next week.”