Jurgen Klopp revels in 'one of the biggest Champions League nights' after Liverpool reach last 16

The 1-0 win over Ajax at Anfield was achieved with a goal from 19-year-old Jones and a clean sheet from a rookie goalkeeper

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Jurgen Klopp described the 1-0 win over Ajax to reach the knockout stages as "one of the biggest Champions League nights" he has experienced as Liverpool manager given his depleted squad.

Liverpool, missing a host of first team regulars, claimed the victory at Anfield thanks to 19-year-old Curtis Jones, while Caoimhin Kelleher kept a clean sheet against the Dutch giants on his European debut.

The win also ensures Klopp's men secure top in Group D with a game to spare, allowing the German to give some of his stars a much-needed rest away to Midtjylland next week.

"Honestly, since I am (at) Liverpool, for how it feels, one of the biggest Champions League nights," said Klopp, who has guided Liverpool to two finals and won the competition in 2019.

"Without supporters in, it was the most important, the most difficult and the most exceptional game."

Kelleher had to deputise for Alisson Becker, who added to Klopp's long injury list before kick-off, while Andrew Robertson needed heavy strapping applied to his ankle in the first half.

Liverpool were already without Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita, Xherdan Shaqiri, Trent Alexander-Arnold and James Milner through injury.

"There are not a lot of reasons to smile because of the injuries it's tricky. Then the boys throw themselves into that game," Klopp said.

"How the kids played. Robbo with a proper knock on the ankle pushing himself through, Hendo (Jordan Henderson) with a proper knock on the back, pushing himself through. Gini (Wijnaldum) I have no words for him, Curtis Jones what a game for a 19-year-old boy. I'm really proud tonight."

Ajax had been unbeaten in eight games since losing to at home to Liverpool in October, but they could not find a way past the inspired Kelleher.


Liverpool v Ajax player ratings


Ajax now must beat Atalanta in Amsterdam next week to make the last 16 and they were left to regret what might have been but for one moment of madness from goalkeeper Andre Onana.

The Spaniard made amends with a great save to turn Roberto Firmino's effort onto the post to keep Ajax in the game after Liverpool's best move of the match involving Henderson and Mohamed Salah.

But Kelleher produced an even better stop two minutes from time to parry Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's powerful header from point-blank range to see Liverpool over the line.

A delighted Klopp ran onto the field to embrace his goalkeeper after the full-time whistle and will hope his squad is in better health for another deep run in the knockout stages come the new year.

"You never know how a boy will react," said Klopp. "I'm really happy with how calm he was, with how good he was."