Klopp defends Coutinho, Firmino benching in Reds draw vs. Everton

LIVERPOOL -- Jurgen Klopp defended his decision to not start Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino in Liverpool's 1-1 with Everton on Sunday, while Sam Allardyce admitted it was a boost to see the Brazilian duo on the bench.

Coutinho and Firmino both came on in the second half, but were unable to help Liverpool find a winner as their local rivals earned a point at Anfield.

Wayne Rooney's 77th-minute spot kick cancelled out Mohamed Salah's stunning opening goal three minutes before half-time.

When asked at his postmatch news conference whether he felt it was still the correct decision to make six changes, Klopp said: "I thought before the game, yes. Still yes, even when the result doesn't show it.

"We did it in the last six or seven weeks. We do it like this. I've said it here, I've said it to the boys already, we can change as much as we want when we win the games, but when we don't win the games I take the blame. I have no problem with that.

"The boys who came in were fresh and did a brilliant job. They played, they worked hard. We worked hard, it was a derby, we accepted it, we took it as a derby, it's a fight. You need to be ready for each challenge -- and we were ready for each challenge.

"We tried everything. We could have scored, we had clear chances, half-chances -- we had everything you need but we didn't use it, that's how it is and we know that. It was always clear a day like this could happen -- we wanted to win 1-0 and we didn't."

Liverpool had 79 percent of possession and 23 shots in the game, compared to Everton's 21-percent share of the ball, which was their lowest ever in a Premier League game since Opta started recording possession statistics in in the 2003-04 season.

"I thought we did everything to win the game," Klopp added. "If somebody would have thought after our last game that we would try to play a little bit of football, then I think everybody saw that the attitude of the boys was outstanding, outstanding tonight -- absolutely spot on, ready for every challenge, ready for everything and playing football against a deep, deeper defending team.

"We forced them into their own box, had our moments. It's difficult to score a lot, especially when the opponent doesn't change their style or whatever after they are 1-0 down.

"That doesn't make it easier. But we controlled the game apart from one situation -- and this situation decided the game at the end. That's what we have to accept."

Meanwhile, despite Coutinho's and Firmino's absence from the start, Everton boss Allardyce was delighted with the way his side defended against Liverpool's in-form attacking unit.

Asked whether he was happy to see Coutinho and Firmino on the bench, Allardyce responded: "Yes, I would say that.

"But they've got an array of outstanding talented players that were still on the pitch. They had the main man on who scored the goal. I'm not so sure I could criticise my defenders for a brilliant finish at such a tight angle.

"I wouldn't make excuses for Liverpool's draw because they didn't play Coutinho or Firmino [from the start]. You've got [Sadio] Mane on the pitch, you've got Salah on the pitch. Do you know what I mean? You've got two of the top scorers at Liverpool on the pitch and we kept them extremely quiet.

"Had they played Coutinho, and because we defended so well, we might have kept him quiet. I mean, he did come on and we kept him quiet.

"You can't knock our defending today when you've limited Liverpool -- probably the best goalscoring record in Europe in recent games -- to three shots on target

"Defensively, I'm very pleased with the team and we've got a long way to go to get better in possession."