Spartak Moscow 1-1 Liverpool: Philippe Coutinho saves the day for Jurgen Klopp’s misfiring Reds as they are forced to settle for a point in Russia


It was the 80th minute when the ball fell to Roberto Firmino. This was all he wanted: 18 yards out, a clear sight of a goal, a chance to become the hero of the hour.
But, as had been the case all evening, the picture he ended up painting was horribly different to the net-ripping one he had in his mind. His shot went high and wide and Firmino sank to the floor, burying his face in the turf.
On the touchline, Jurgen Klopp spun on his heels and drove a fist into his hand in frustration. A wearily familiar story was being told once more and, before the final whistle, his disbelief would grow further.

After Firmino, substitute Daniel Sturridge and Mohamed Salah had opportunities to put Spartak Moscow away but, like the Brazilian, they faltered when it mattered and another two Champions League points were squandered.
‘We had four of five 100 per cent chances,’ Klopp reflected.
That isn’t necessarily true. Liverpool created 17 goal scoring opportunities in Moscow and should have demolished their Russian hosts but the only one they converted was a magnificent effort from Philippe Coutinho. It wasn’t good enough, by any means.
For all that criticising Liverpool’s defence is in vogue, the inability to put teams to the sword is proving to be just as worrying. The story of matchday two for them reads the same as matchday one against Sevilla: too many missed chances.
It had been put to Klopp when he arrived in Moscow that Liverpool’s need to win here was not solely about taking charge of Group E but it was also to remind the rest of the continent they could be competent travellers.

One day, all of these opportunities Liverpool are creating will be finished and someone, somewhere will be taken apart. But until the profligacy is addressed, the anguish Klopp plainly feels on the touchline will endure.
That break should have been converted. Jordan Henderson, Alexander-Arnold, Mane and Salah set off like 100metre sprinters but the final ball from the captain slid under the Senegal forward’s foot and Salah had strayed offside.
Stood with his hands behind his back, occasionally scratching his head, Klopp was seeing nearly everything he wanted from his team – the passing, the pressing, the energy – and the game was played almost exclusively in Spartak’s half.
If you don’t let the opposition out of their territory, Klopp often explains, they cannot score. But, again, neither could Liverpool. Another chance was came and went when Coutinho’s free-kick was smothered by Rebrov at the second attempt.
‘That is how football is,’ Klopp said. ‘The only way you can change it is by doing the same thing and you do it again.’
That turned out to be Rebrov’s last involvement, however, as he was driven off the field the back of a medical cart, with his knee heavily bandaged. With 25 minutes to go, his replacement Aleksander Selikhov was under no illusions about what to expect.
Selikhov, though, barely had a save to make in the time he was on. Liverpool peppered his goal but no one had sufficient poise from Firmino to Sturridge to Salah, who headed straight at the substitute from Alexander-Arnold’s cross in added time.
‘We are strong enough to qualify,’ said Klopp, whose side now face back-to-back games against Maribor. ‘The door is open but we have to walk through it. We can see a bit of light but we have to stay cool. We will be all right.’
That will only be true if they learn how to finish.


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