Thursday, May 19, 2016 2:04 am
Sevilla midfielder Coke broke Liverpool hearts with a second-half brace in a controversy-filled 3-1 victory that secured a record third consecutive Europa League title on Wednesday.
But Jurgen Klopp’s men failed to build on Daniel Sturridge’s superb 35th minute opener, and when Kevin Gameiro found Liverpool asleep to level seconds after the restart, it opened the floodgates.
Liverpool’s heads went down and, as they began to sit back, Coke struck in six second-half minutes to give Unai Emery’s men a 3-1 lead by the 70th minute.
Coke looked offside, but after angry scenes that saw Klopp sprint down the touchline to confront the linesman, Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson pointed to the centre circle after consulting with his official.
An emotional Klopp, losing his fifth consecutive final, admitted Gameiro’s leveller had taken the wind out of Liverpool’s sails — although the German hopes defeat will serve as a lesson in the long run.
“Their first goal was a big influence on our game. We lost faith in our style of play, we lost our formation, (we were) not compact any more, but we’ve had this problem before,” said Klopp.
With victory rewarding the winners with a place in next season’s Champions League, and the losers nothing, Klopp added: “We are disappointed, we are frustrated.
“Now it’s clear, we’re not in an international tournament next year. It means we have time to train, to work harder.
“The boys showed what they are capable of, many of them are still young and this was the first big final, and we will use this experience together.
“Some day everybody will say defeat to Sevilla was the turning point in the success of Liverpool FC.”