Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp was feeling encouraged by what he saw from his players in the second-half as they came from behind to defeat Manchester City 2-1 in New Jersey
After their discouraging defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the first game of their US tour, Liverpool were in danger of suffering a second successive loss when Leroy Sane scored the opening goal for City after a goalless first-half.
But the returning Mohamed Salah equalised for the Reds just 52 seconds after he was brought on as a substitute, before strike partner Sadio Mane sealed the win for Liverpool with a 94th-minute penalty.
Speaking after the 2-1 win over their Premier League rivals, Klopp acknowledged that his squad still have some way to go yet before they reach their peak level of fitness.
“The second half pleased me; the first half I was not so pleased with, how you can imagine,” he told the club website.
“Pre-season is a really strange period. It’s so important. On the other hand, you constantly play football you don’t want to see because the legs are heavy and it’s really difficult for the boys. You see how they react in a different way to all the sessions we do.
“In the first half there were obviously a lot of big legs, they were tired kind of. You could see it; no freshness, nothing. Then the problem is of course, the formation usually is good for playing football but you need depth in your game. We didn’t have that, we didn’t offer it one time.”
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) July 26, 2018
The arrival of Cameroon forward Mane, who scored the match-winning goal, after the break had a telling impact on the game.
“You saw the difference already when Sadio came on,” said Klopp.
“Now you can prepare direction, you can play balls in behind, which makes life difficult for the opponent. So, with this and then all the other changes after 60 minutes, bringing in fresh legs and obviously a lot of desire to play football, we changed the game. So I’m happy with the second half. On the other hand, physical-wise it was important that a lot of players could play 60 minutes for the first time, in difficult circumstances again.”
Liverpool are now in seventh place in the International Champions Cup table and will next face Manchester United on Saturday at the Michigan Stadium.