Jurgen Klopp said Liverpool were “closer than ever” to Manchester City’s level in their pulsating 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium, which leaves the Premier League title race in the balance.
Liverpool manager Klopp also acknowledged that a draw was the right result, and described the “wild” back-and-forth encounter as resembling a boxing match.
Klopp’s side twice fell behind in the first half, with Kevin de Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus netting either side of Diogo Jota’s equaliser, as Liverpool trailed at half-time in the league for the first time this season.
However, Sadio Mane immediately after the interval to ensure both head-to-head clashes between the Premier League’s top two this term have ended level.
This was the first Premier League game of the season in which City scored first and did not go on to win; they had won their last 22 games when scoring first in the competition before facing the Reds.
Klopp’s team still trail City by just a point with seven top-flight games remaining, and the German was delighted that his side went toe-to-toe with Pep Guardiola’s leaders.
“What a game, [it was] wild,” Klopp said to Sky Sports. “Better start for City, obviously, in the first half they had some big chances.
“I think we can describe it like a boxing fight, you put both arms down for a second and you get a massive knock! You shake it off and then the next knock comes from the other team!
“I liked a lot of things, I thought we were closer than ever, in all moments when we played football and controlled the game, we were really dangerous for them, that’s how we scored the goals.
“In the second half, obviously, our start was much better with the goal immediately. In moments when we tried to breathe a little bit, bam, the next one [attack] came.
“Great game, and it’s a result we have to live with, and can live with.”
Klopp expressed his pride with Liverpool’s response in the second half, saying they improved considerably with the ball to show they are an “exceptional” outfit.
“I wanted us to play proper football more often than in the first half,” Klopp added. “I saw it more in the second half but it’s not always possible, at that intensity.
“It’s a deserved draw, the right result. I wanted to make sure they saw that my boys are exceptional, as well.
“I saw that today and I’m really happy about that. In the Premier League, there are seven games left for both teams, we will not stop chasing. But now we have two different competitions, so let’s make sure we’re ready for Benfica [in the Champions League on Wednesday] and for Wembley.
“We meet again in six days [in the FA Cup semi-final] with potentially extra-time and a penalty shoot-out, but this was good fun, I liked it.”