Liverpool drew their Champions League group stage campaign with a 1-1 draw away to Midtjylland.
An early Mohamed Salah gave the Reds the lead before the hosts levelled proceedings through an Alexander Scholz penalty.
More VAR drama ensued as Liverpool were denied what appeared a perfectly legitimate late winner through Takumi Minamino, but the video assistant referee — mistaking Sadio Mane’s arm for that of one of the hosts defenders — disallowed the Japan international’s goal for handball in the build-up.
Nevertheless, with Salah playing the entirety and Alexander Arnold getting more freshness into his legs, Klopp wouldn’t have been too upset about the loss of two more points, especially in a dead rubber game.
Having already won the group in matchday 5, Klopp elected to make a raft of changes to his team and fielded an eleven that was parts players needing minutes to increase sharpness and younger players.
Despite all the starting line up alterations, the visitors had the dream start when a miskicked back pass allowed Salah through on goal. Showing big levels of grit, the Egyptian hobbled through some would-be challenges before sliding the ball past the onrushing Jesper Hansen in the Danes’ goal.
With Trent Alexander Arnold starting at right-back and the creative talents of Naby Keita, debutant Leighton and the repurposed Minamino, the English champions had plenty of options to craft openings. The Reds’ looked menacing on the break on several occasions, only for bad touches — an area where both Diogo Jota and Divock Origi were guilty — to scupper promising situations.
The hosts, who were let away with reckless physicality by the lenient referee, Francois Letexier from France, looked devoid of attacking inspiration and only threatened from speculative long balls up to their giant forward, Sory Kaba, or from set-pieces, an area of the game where they are renowned for their efficiency.
Liverpool, albeit far from their fluid best, went into the interval holding their 1-0 advantage.
Midtjylland started the second period in a better manner and almost had a goal when Evander — the Danes Brazilian attacking midfielder — hit the bar with a strong strike after a second phase set piece.
Lumping more and more pressure on the visitors — who substituted their best defender, Fabinho, for youngster Billy Koumetio at half time — the Danish team were eventually rewarded for their rudimentary, yet increasingly effective, approach.
Anders Dreyer, after initially looking offside, was sent through on goal and was downed by the onrushing Caoimhin Kelleher. After a VAR review — which took what felt like an eternity — the Danish attacker was adjudged onside and, correctly, the penalty was given.
Despite guessing the right way from the spot, Kelleher was beaten by the power of Scholz’s penalty and the hosts had what — on balance — could only be described as a deserved equaliser.
With all the changes, Liverpool made all five available to them — with Andrew Robertson replacing the injured Kostas Tsimikas, a victim of the hosts overly physical approach, Firmino replacing the ineffective Origi, Jordan Henderson coming on for Naby Keita, and Sadio Mane, right at the death, replacing Jota and, as mentioned, Koumetio replacing Fabinho — the game lost any kind of fluency.
Kelleher, who impressed throughout — especially with his distribution — made a strong save from a corner and the Reds thought they won it late on, but Minamino’s prodded finish from a Mane was chalked off because Mane — “allegedly” — handled the ball in the build-up.
And a game that no one will remember — or want to — finished 1-1.
Liverpool team; Kelleher; Alexander Arnold, Williams, Fabinho, Tsimikas; Clarkson, Keita, Minamino; Jota, Origi, Salah.
Replacements: Henderson for Keita, Mane for Jota, Firmino for Origi, Robertson for Tsimikas, Koumetio for Fabinho.
Subs not used: Adrian, Matip, Williams, Cain, Jaros, Wijnaldum, Jones.