Soccer-Klopp draws inspiration from Barcelona comeback in Liverpool's Luton win

Soccer Football - Premier League - Liverpool v Luton Town - Anfield, Liverpool, Britain - February 21, 2024 Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp celebrates after the match REUTERS/Molly Darlington

LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said their stunning Champions League comeback against Barcelona in 2019 provided the inspiration for his injury-hit squad to beat Luton Town at Anfield on Wednesday.

Klopp said he promised his team a few months ago that he would never use as an example the memorable semi-final match, when despite missing key players including Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, Liverpool mounted a sensational fightback to beat Barcelona 4-0 and 4-3 on aggregate.

"Tonight I broke my promise," Klopp said with a laugh.

"The game was kind of similar, many players missing," Klopp added. "The team that night ignored the fact who was missing, and I wanted us to ignore the fact who is missing."

While the stakes might not have been as high, Wednesday's game bore some resemblance as his depleted squad scored four goals to beat Luton 4-1 and stay on course at the top of the Premier League table.

Liverpool have been hit by recent injuries to key players, and among those missing on Wednesday were Salah, Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota, Curtis Jones, Dominik Szoboszlai, Trent Alexander-Arnold and keeper Alisson Becker.

As a result, Liverpool fielded their youngest starting team -- 25 years and 68 days -- for a Premier League game in five years.

Virgil van Dijk, Cody Gakpo, Luis Diaz and Harvey Elliott scored.

"What this place, together with a bunch of fantastic footballers, is able to create is so special, oh my god," Klopp said. "The second half we were undeniable, hey?"

"I needed a few minutes to process it when I got all the (pre-game injury) news," he added. "But from the moment on, when you know how you can deal with it, how we can solve it for this game now, it feels really good. And that's what I wanted the boys to show."

"I'm so happy with the performance," Klopp said. "I'm so happy, for so many things we saw tonight, before the game nobody knew how the boys will take on this challenge and because it is a challenge."

Klopp had high praise for Luton, who were promoted this season and are 18th in the table.

"I said before the game, I said after the game, the job Rob (Edwards, Luton's manager) is doing is absolutely outstanding."

(Reporting by Lori Ewing; Editing by Toby Davis)

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