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Jurgen Klopp explains surprising Liverpool substitution against Ajax


Jurgen Klopp has explained his surprise decision to substitute Liverpool’s first-choice front line during the Champions League win at Ajax.

Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino were all replaced on 59 minutes of the 1-0 triumph in Holland on Wednesday.

With Liverpool ahead, Klopp made use of the five-substitute rule in the competition by introducing Diogo Jota, Takumi Minamino and Xherdan Shaqiri for the final half-hour.

All three had opportunities to extend the lead, with the triumph putting the Reds second in the early Group D table behind Italian side Atalanta, who won 4-0 against Midtjylland in Denmark.

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And Klopp said: “You could see it was an intense game for the three up front.

“It was hard for the starting front three, and I was really happy we could do that (replace them).

“I was not in doubt about the quality of the boys (who came on). The game was pretty wild and we defended all together.

“We were defending 4-5-1 and both wingers needed to be really involved in the defending. The moment you win the ball, then there are big spaces for counter-attacks, and we thought it made sense to bring on fresh legs.

“All three who came on are in really good shape, they all really helped a lot.

“Shaq won deflections, which was pretty special! Taki in both directions was incredible between the lines and Diogo is a machine, he can do a lot of punishing of opponents in one-on-one situations.

“We didn’t finish them off unfortunately.”

Jordan Henderson had already replaced Curtis Jones at the break while Rhys Williams – like Jones, making his debut in the Champions League – came on during injury time for James Milner.

And Klopp added: “I was really happy we could make five changes. Millie only got cramp, but then you can bring on Rhys and it was long balls (from Ajax) and Rhys is pretty strong in the air.

“There are a few nice stories in the game. It will not be on the front page of our history book, but it was an important win.”

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