Breaking News: Klopp must ditch Liverpool dud who had fewer touches than Kelleher vs Toulouse

The Reds suffered the first defeat of their Europa League campaign.

Liverpool endured a testing night in the Europa League that Jurgen Klopp would have rather avoided, falling to a surprising 3-2 defeat against struggling French side Toulouse.

The Reds would have hoped to rebound with a strong showing after languishing to a draw against Luton Town at Kenilworth Road in the Premier League last weekend, with blushes only spared through Luis Diaz’s late equaliser, but it was not to be as Klopp issued heavy rotation.


While Liverpool remain in first place in Group E after four matches, the chance to secure an early spot in the knockout phase has now evaporated and the upcoming Anfield fixture against LASK on 30 November will be crucial in swerving a distressing finale to the group stage.

Liverpool’s performance vs Toulouse

Not for the first time, Liverpool struggled to get going on the continental stage this season, only this time, the second half did not foster a positive end to the game, with Aron Donnum’s strike before the break doubled by Thijs Dallinga’s effort just short of the hour mark.

A freakish own goal handed Liverpool a lifeline before Frank Magri reestablished Toulouse’s two-goal cushion moments later; Diogo Jota’s fine move and strike offered a glimpse of hope that was latched onto in the dying embers – but Klopp’s side’s belief that parity had been restored ended in disappointment.

Indeed, Alexis Mac Allister was adjudged to have handled the ball in the build-up to what would have been a dramatic equaliser and a first professional goal from young centre-back Jarell Quansah at the death.

Alas, the frenzied Liverpool celebrations were silenced by the cruel and contentious intervention of VAR, and while the travelling team will bemoan the decision to rule out Quansah’s goal, the questions must swiftly turn to lack of inspiration on offer once again from Liverpool.

Caoimhin Kelleher’s performance vs Toulouse

Caoimhín Kelleher, aged 24, deputised between the sticks for his fifth appearance of the campaign (and the third in the Europa League), and while he was not exactly culpable for the loss, he failed to exert authority in rebuffing efforts and only made one save from inside the box despite shipping three.

Providing the stand-in shot-stopper with a 6/10 rating, the Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle wrote: ‘Confident with the ball at his feet and passed well first half, and not much chance with any of the goals.’


Kelleher will be dispirited by shipping three goals and suffering defeat against a Toulouse side that was bested 5-1 in the reverse match last month, also sitting 14th in Ligue 1 with just two wins from 11 matches.

It is important to stress that at the heart of it, this is a Liverpool side that has been rebuilt after an immensely disappointing season, and it’s a squad that remains on course to win Group E as well as perching third in the Premier League and awaiting the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup.

But certain performances simply cannot go unchallenged, and at the epicentre of the absence of fluidity in the final third was Cody Gakpo, who will be downcast after failing to impress on his return to the starting line-up.

Gakpo has scored four goals and supplied one assist from just eight starting appearances across all competitions this term, but handed his first Europa League start of the season at Toulouse, the 24-year-old only flattered to deceive.

Substituted after 73 minutes for Darwin Nunez, Gakpo failed to exude swagger and style and was largely marshalled, if a little too robustly, by a resilient home backline.

As per Sofascore, the Dutchman failed to take a single shot, failed with both of his attempted dribbles, was dribbled past twice and lost nine duels despite attempting to win 11 – this, candidly, is not the kind of mettle the Reds need to take control of proceedings in the final third.

Indeed, as could also be said against Luton, Liverpool appear to have been outfought in the last few games and this is something that will leave Klopp incensed after a concerted summer transfer effort to settle the equilibrium and reinvigorate the ranks.


Dropping deeper and out wide in an effort to influence the match, Gakpo did manage to make three key passes but this is a simple masquerade over a performance that will have done little to prove that he deserves a starting berth on the biggest occasions for the Merseyside outfit.

To compound his travails, Gakpo’s 29 touches on the night was a worse tally than even Kelleher’s, who only took 39 touches himself; a lack of support from the centre certainly played a part, but the former PSV Eindhoven star will need to work on his movement and effectiveness in the danger area to win Klopp over and start performing at the level that he can clearly reach, when the cogs combine.

Criticising Gakpo’s ineffective night and handing him a 5/10 match score, Doyle wrote:’ Unhappy with lack of protection from referee at times but struggled to make meaningful impact and almost invisible second half. Subbed.’

Make no mistake, Gakpo is quality and offers much to the Anfield side’s attack when on his game, ranking among the top 7% of forwards across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for progressive passes, the top 15% for progressive carries and the top 1% for tackles per 90, as per FBref

But the £120k-per-week ace’s woes in France were accentuated by a dreary collective display that now does mean that dropped points against LASK at the end of the month will trigger the din of the alarm bells.

It shouldn’t come to that, but Klopp does have his work cut out to instil the confidence and cohesion that is necessary to match the illustrious vision that all believe can be achieved.

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