Inter Milan set up to frustrate Liverpool at the San Siro on Wednesday evening, Simone Inzaghi’s side clearly having been well drilled on the Reds’ preferred patterns of play and working hard to nullify their in-form opponents for an hour.
The downside for the hosts was that their gameplan didn’t leave them with much of an offensive outlet. For all their good work and sound defensive tactics, it was hard to see where a goal for Inter was ever going to come from.
Then, as the hosts’ legs tired, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp looked to his bench and used his enviable depth to change the game, bringing on Jordan Henderson, Naby Keïta, and Luis Diaz and turning a nil-nil game into a 2-0 Liverpool victory.
“The boys who came on had a proper impact,” Klopp said afterwards of the substitutions that changed the match. “All three were really good. Bobby scored and from there we controlled the game and scored a really nice second one.”
Inter were commendable in their performance shutting down Klopp’s Reds for an hour, but it came at a cost as the hosts recorded zero shots on target—something that hasn’t happened to them at home in the league or Europe since at least 2009.
That spoke to the Reds’ attacking threat and just how focused Inter were on shutting down their opponents, but it also spoke to just how good Klopp’s side themselves are when it comes to executing the defensive side of the game.
“We defended really well, the way you have to defend,” the Liverpool manager added. “[Inter] make the pitch really big. That makes it really tricky, so you have to defend with passion. Organisation helps as well but with passion.
“I thought defensively it was a really strong performance, but it would be silly if we wouldn’t defend well because it means a lot to us this competition and these games, so we invested a lot and it’s good. It’s half-time, not more but not less as well.”