Watch: Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp hails Cork keeper Caoimhín Kelleher

Watch: Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp hails Cork keeper Caoimhín Kelleher

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and goalkeeper Caoimhín Kelleher after the Champions League win over Ajax. Picture: Jon Super/PA Wire.

JURGEN Klopp embraced young Cork goalkeeper Caoimhín Kelleher after the Champions League debutant made a series of superb saves against Ajax at Anfield to secure a last 16 spot.

An aberration from Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana gifted Curtis Jones his first Champions League goal and handed Liverpool qualification to the last 16 as Group D winners with a 1-0 victory at Anfield.

The focus had been all been on Kelleher making his competition debut between the posts for Jurgen Klopp's side because of injury to Alisson Becker but the 22-year-old did not put a foot wrong.

Liverpool needed only a draw from the fixture to secure progress to the knockout stage but Midtjylland getting a point against Atalanta guaranteed top spot, rendering next week's trip to Denmark a dead rubber and giving Klopp some much-needed breathing room to rest some of his players.

Alisson is likely to be out for up to 10 days with a hamstring problem sustained at Brighton on Saturday, taking the injury count up to nine.

Picture: Michael Regan/Getty Images
Picture: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Klopp opted to play Kelleher, who had only four domestic cup appearances to his name, instead of established number two Adrian and was not disappointed as the Republic of Ireland U21 international produced several good saves, the best late on from experienced goalscorer Klaas Jan Huntelaar's close-range header.

"It is a situation where I have to say it was easy to decide for Caoimh, because he deserves it, but difficult to decide against Adrian because he has done well for us," said Klopp on his decision.

"He did a really good job but tonight we needed the package of Caoimh and he is a top talent, really good shot-stopper and top footballer.

"In the end it is about keeping the ball out the net and he did that twice and he did that in an exceptional manner. He will either sleep really well tonight or not at all."

The match threw up more injury worries, with respective ankle and back problems for Andy Robertson and Jordan Henderson, and Klopp is keeping his fingers crossed for good news.

"Both played through so I would say we have now two days more than we had last week so I think (they are OK)," he said.

"Things like this show up the next day a little different but in the moment I am positive about it. That is a problem for the next few days but not tonight.

"I am actually over the moon with the attitude and character we showed tonight," Klopp said.

"We had great football moments, could have scored early, defended well, had counter-attacking chances in the second half, scored a wonderful goal and had to defend with all we had.

"I am very happy about the result and the performance in the circumstances."

Klopp said he did not see the goal properly at the time but praised Jones for anticipating where the ball would land.

"Honestly it was a good cross from Neco because it is not a cross directed to the goalie but usually it's a ball going for a goal-kick and no-one reacts," he added.

"I have to watch it back to see the goal but I saw it was in the net and that is enough information for me."

Jordan Henderson and goalkeeper Caoimhín Kelleher. Picture: Jon Super/PA Wire. 
Jordan Henderson and goalkeeper Caoimhín Kelleher. Picture: Jon Super/PA Wire. 

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