Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is adamant his players do not have a mentality problem despite their capitulation in the 3-3 draw with Sevilla.
Qualification for the knockout stage of the Champions League for the first time since 2009 looked a mere formality and two goals from Roberto Firmino and one from Sadio Mane put the visitors comfortably ahead at half-time.
However, in a scenario which mirrored their 2016 Europa League final defeat to the same opposition, they again conceded three after the interval with Wissam Ben Yedder’s two goals— including a twice-taken penalty—ramping up the pressure before Guido Pizarro’s 93rd-minute equaliser.
“Yes it was not perfect but it’s not a general problem. It just happened,” said Klopp.
“Could we have done better? One hundred percent. Do I think it’s a mentality problem? One hundred percent not.
“We opened the door for them, didn’t close it, so they could score in the last minute. That’s the story of the game.”
It cost Liverpool the chance of winning Group E with a match to spare.
They now need a draw at home to Spartak Moscow to progress and—although they still lead the table—Sevilla could pip them to top spot as they play already-eliminated Maribor.
Klopp did not use the word complacent but felt his players eased off to give their opponents every encouragement.
“Fantastic first half for us, the second half we made a mistake, we didn’t carry on playing football,” he added.
“We became passive, they scored the first, then it was obvious the atmosphere changed immediately. That gave them a big boost.
“When controlling the game it is not allowed to become passive in a game like this.
“They are human beings. It was misjudgement.”