LONDON (Reuters) - Liverpool frequently grab the headlines for the dynamism of their attacking play and intensity of their pressing game, but it was their character and resilience under pressure that impressed manager Juergen Klopp against Chelsea on Sunday.
Having taken a 2-0 lead with goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino in the first half and then missed chances to extend their advantage early in the second, they were forced to hang on at the end as hosts Chelsea fought back.
N’Golo Kante pulled a goal back in the 71st minute as the home side got on top, forcing Premier League leaders Liverpool to dig in and hold on for the three points.
The survived a couple of scares as substitute Michy Batshuayi headed wide after 88 minutes and Mason Mount scooped over the bar at the end, but Klopp was impressed that his side refused to buckle.
“I think I shouldn’t be surprised any more about the character of my team,” he told reporters.
“We expect it from us that we fight, we had a big job to do. Everybody thinks we should be first or second (in the league), we just have to play the football for it and that’s what we did. Without character life is difficult and football is too.
“The boys did really well and fought really hard. I don’t think there is any other way to win here.”
While Liverpool stayed five points clear at the summit with their sixth straight victory, Chelsea manager Frank Lampard was left to lick the wounds of more dropped points at home.
Chelsea, who are 11th and 10 points behind Liverpool, are without a win in four home games in all competitions, after they also lost 1-0 to Valencia in the Champions League on Tuesday.
“It’s definitely a concern, we want to win at home,” Lampard told reporters. “Against Liverpool, you know you can lose, they are a strong team. But I expect the home win to come soon.
“Hopefully it will come very soon and bring confidence to everybody. But we need to aspire to a level like Liverpool, who came here, did not play their best but still won the game.”
Reporting by Toby Davis; Editing by Ken Ferris