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Augsburg hold firm to deny Klopp a happy return

Augsburg 0-0 Liverpool
The Bavarian side claimed a creditable draw in their first-ever European knockout match as Jürgen Klopp's German homecoming ended goalless.

Augsburg hold firm to deny Klopp a happy return
Augsburg hold firm to deny Klopp a happy return ©UEFA.com
  • Augsburg's first-ever European knockout match finishes as a goalless draw
  • Liverpool dominate but Marwin Hitz impresses in the hosts' goal
  • Coutinho and Alberto Moreno come closest to finding the net for the visitors
  • Paul Verhaegh and Ragnar Klavan impress in Augsburg's defence
  • The return leg takes place next week ahead of Friday's round of 16 draw

Jürgen Klopp's return to Germany ended in stalemate as Augsburg held his Liverpool side to a 0-0 UEFA Europa League round of 32 first-leg draw.

Buoyed by a rocking atmosphere for the club's maiden European knockout tie, Augsburg began well. The hosts forced Liverpool back although they failed to create any noteworthy chances. It was, in fact, the visitors who enjoyed the better opportunities early on, with both Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino testing Marwin Hitz.

Having weathered the initial storm, Klopp's team started to dominate possession yet struggled in front of goal. Jordan Henderson threatened with one long-range effort but it was Augsburg who finished the half stronger, Alexander Esswein being denied by Simon Mignolet.

Where openings were few and far between in the first period, both sides emerged aggressively after the interval. Sturridge and Coutinho came within centimetres of the breakthrough, before Hitz did well to stop the ball crossing the line following a dangerous Alberto Moreno free-kick.

Although Dominik Kohr shot wide from distance soon afterwards, Hitz was again called into action to repel Moreno's attempt with 25 minutes remaining. Thereafter, however, both teams seemed content to shut up shop and take the tie back to Anfield with everything still to play for.

Experience pays off 
The home crowd were in fine voice for Augsburg's European knockout debut and Markus Weinzierl's men began at pace and forced Liverpool back. As the game wore on, though, the Merseysiders' greater nous started to tell. Kolo Touré marshalled Liverpool's back line commandingly, while James Milner's clever retention of possession also underlined the value of experience.

A German affair
With the Bundesliga famed for its lightning-fast breaks, both Klopp and Weinzierl – familiar foes from the former's time at Borussia Dortmund – appeared to relish the counterattacking battle that unfolded. For the most part, Augsburg were happy to invite Liverpool to push forward with the intention of attacking directly in transition. Touré and Mamadou Sakho had to be alert throughout.

Bobadilla influence
The hosts' good start was in no small part down to Raúl Bobadilla's bullish forward play. The Paraguayan international began the evening as the UEFA Europa League's joint-top scorer with six goals, and his departure on 23 minutes certainly removed some of his team's bite in attack.