Niko Kovac conceded that Bayern Munich deservedly lost to Liverpool in their Champions League last-16 tie.
The Bavarians coach was forced to watch on as his side endured a forgettable night on Wednesday in front of their own supporters at the Allianz Arena as Liverpool emerged with a 3-1 second-leg win.
It was a completely unexpected result for Bayern, who had come into the return leg on the back of a 6-0 thrashing of Wolfsburg at the weekend only to struggle badly throughout the game with Liverpool.
In fact, the Bundesliga leaders rarely caused the Liverpool defence any real problems with a Joel Matip own goal being the only bit of consolation for their efforts.
“We were up against very, very strong opponents. I’d like to congratulate Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp. They were the better team over the two matches,” said Kovac on the club website.
“We kept the contest open until Liverpool’s second goal. You saw a set-piece can be decisive in a match like this. They closed us down well. We didn’t manage to play calmly and set up [Robert] Lewandowski, that’s why it was a deserved defeat.
“Our opponents attacked very early and at a high pace. We tried to use our full-backs to attack. We didn’t succeed because our opponents did a really good job, whereas we didn’t have our best day.
“Liverpool are a top team. They were finalists last year and are among the top teams in the Premier League. They exposed our limitations.”
Manuel Neuer became just the sixth keeper in history to make 100 Champions League appearances on Wednesday night, but could do little to prevent Sadio Mane’s brace and Virgil Van Dijk’s header.
“The victory wasn’t underserved today. We lacked punch up front, we didn’t create enough chances,” said Neuer.
“Taken altogether the result is okay, even if it hurts. We were highly motivated, we were fired up, the attitude was right. It would have helped to take the lead when it was 1-1. The goal from a set-piece at an awkward moment settled it.”
Bayern will next be in action at home to Mainz in the Bundesliga on Sunday.