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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp dismissed suggestions his side were not motivated enough for their match against Manchester City, saying his players displayed a “brilliant attitude” despite being on the end of a 4-0 defeat.
The Reds arrived at Ethad Stadium as newly-crowned Premier League champions and were given a guard of honour by City, title winners the past two seasons, before kick-off.
However, that was the only generosity City offered all evening as Pep Guardiola’s side put in a ruthless display that suggests they will push the Merseysiders all the way for the title next season.
Goals from Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden were on target in the first half, the first time Liverpool went into half-time of a Premier League game 3-0 down since a 6-1 defeat away at Stoke more than five years ago.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s own goal completed the rout after the break, though Riyad Mahrez thought he had made it five in stoppage-time only for VAR to rule his goal out for handball.
It was Liverpool’s heaviest Premier League defeat since a 5-0 thrashing by the same opposition at the same venue in September 2017. Such a scoreline raised inevitable questions about Liverpool’s preparations and whether they had taken the foot off the gas given the title had already been secured.
Klopp bristled at such suggestions after the game, however, vehemently defending his side’s performance and insisting his players were as committed as they have been all season.
"Is the game important to us? I saw a brilliant attitude,” he told Sky Sports.
"They were quicker than us in mind. We lacked fluidity. Against Man City you have massive problems.
"We had moments. We had chances, we didn't use them. The result we have to take.
"If you want to lead this story in direction we were not focused, then do it. I liked my teams attitude, you ask again. Isn't it nice another team can be champions when Man City can play so well.
"Man City are incredible. I saw their season, they didn't play a bad game."