Liverpool claimed an excellent 1-1 draw with Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their Europa League quarterfinal on Thursday as Jurgen Klopp made an emotional return to the Westfalenstadion.
The game marked Klopp’s first coming together with his former club since his departure last summer and subsequent appointment by Liverpool back in October.
He saw Divock Origi put the Premier League side in front in the 36th minute before Mats Hummels equalised for the hosts three minutes into the second half.
However, that away goal means Liverpool have the upper hand ahead of next Thursday’s second leg at Anfield and Klopp will be confident his side can progress to the last four after an encouraging display in Germany.
“Dortmund’s a pretty good side. Everybody could see that but we had our moments and we could have won the game,” Klopp told BT Sport.
A rousing rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ – the Liverpool hymn that is also a Dortmund anthem – preceded kick-off as Klopp took in the scene at the stadium where he is still idolised after a highly successful seven years as coach.
“It was respectful, nice and how it should be,” Klopp said of his welcome.
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But perhaps the emotion of the occasion got to the Bundesliga team because they were unable to repeat their superb performance in tearing Tottenham Hotspur apart in the last round.
Their 36-goal leading scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was subdued and they were denied an opener when Mamadou Sakho bravely blocked a Henrikh Mkhitaryan shot.
Dejan Lovren should have done better than head straight at Roman Weidenfeller at the other end but Origi put the visitors in front when he held off his marker and slotted low past the ‘keeper after latching onto a Jordan Henderson flick.
Weidenfeller prevented Origi from scoring again just before the interval and Dortmund drew level shortly after the restart, captain Hummels rising above Adam Lallana to head in a Mkhitaryan cross.
Weidenfeller saved well from Philippe Coutinho and the final scoreline means the tie remains up for grabs, even if Liverpool have the edge.
SEVILLA WIN SPANISH BATTLE
Meanwhile, holders Sevilla remain on course to win the trophy for the third season running after coming from behind to win 2-1 away to Spanish rivals Athletic Bilbao in the first leg of their tie.
Sevilla have not won away from home all season in La Liga and, after a goalless first half in which Aritz Aduriz hit the post for the hosts, they went behind in the 48th minute.
Iker Muniain crossed and the evergreen Aduriz headed in his 32nd goal of a remarkable campaign.
But as the rain lashed down in the Basque Country, Sevilla silenced San Mames when Ever Banega pounced on a short headed back-pass by Muniain and set up Timothee Kolodziejczak to score.
Kevin Gameiro then set up substitute Vicente Iborra to give Sevilla the win seven minutes from time and leave beaten 2012 finalists Athletic up against it ahead of the return leg.
One Spanish side is guaranteed to make the last four and Villarreal hope to be there too after beating Sparta Prague of the Czech Republic 2-1 at El Madrigal.
Cedric Bakambu got both goals for the hosts, charging down a clearance by goalkeeper David Bicik for the early opener and then scoring the winner in the second half after Jakub Brabec had headed Sparta’s equaliser.
Meanwhile Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk, the 2009 Uefa Cup winners, are in the driving seat in their tie against Braga after a 2-1 victory in Portugal.
Yaroslav Rakitskiy fired Shakhtar ahead on the stroke of halftime and Facundo Ferreyra increased their lead before Wilson Eduardo grabbed a potentially vital goal for 2011 runners-up Braga late on.