A game ending in farce saw a display from Liverpool completing lacking pace, guile and intelligence that led to deserved defeat in France. Toulouse were quicker, brighter, smarter, and full of desire. This, despite Klopp ringing the changes for his 450th game in charge but on the wrong end of a 3-2 score line, will not be a one he’ll wish to remember.
The game actually started positively for the Reds, as Joe Gomez struck the Toulouse crossbar with an early header. However, that was as good as it got in an opening 45 minutes, in which Liverpool neither offered or produced anything of note. Instead, it was a repeat of the lethargy and unintelligent football served up against Luton. Ben Doak did his best out wide, but received no support from any other red shirt. There was no pace, no width, six touches where one would do and no drive from midfield.
Remarkably, despite the introduction of Mo Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Dominik Szoboszlai, Liverpool were actually worse in the second half and soon found themselves two behind. The dither and delay in defence was punished by a Toulouse team determined to give their boisterous supporters a night to remember.
It was only with barely 15 minutes remaining that Liverpool roused themselves. Late substitute Diogo Jota, with a surging run and great individual goal, leading to a truly crazy seven minutes of injury time. With just seconds left, Jarell Quansah, one of few in red to emerge with any credit, thought he’d equalised, only for VAR to instruct the referee to look at an earlier hand ball by alexis Mac Allister. The outcome was inevitable. Handball it was, though the rule that such a goal should only be disallowed if the scorer commits the offence seems to have been ignored and VAR petrified referees into sticking with their on-field decision.
No doubt Liverpool will qualify, even after this debacle, probably as group winners, but this performance and result was abject. Brentford at home on Sunday suddenly brings with it unexpected pressure. Victory is all important against the team from West London, but Jurgen Klopp, I’m sure, will be looking for a performance light years from that which he’s overseen at both Luton and Toulouse.