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In the build-up to Liverpool’s clash with Inter at Anfield, Jurgen Klopp went to great lengths to spell out the fact that he and his team were taking nothing for granted.

Leading 2-0 from the first leg in Milan, the Reds were the clear favourites for progression in the Champions League last 16.

But, at his pre-match press conference, their manager warned: “The danger everybody knows about. It’s 2-0, the lead I think which got turned over most often in the history of football.”

And he struck a similar chord in his programme notes, telling supporters: “If anyone has even a tiny percentage of complacency or entitlement, please stay away.”

Of course, Klopp would have loved nothing more than for Liverpool to have produced a vintage performance that made his cautious tone seem unnecessary.

Instead, he was proven completely right about the threat posed by Simone Inzaghi’s side, who had in truth been rather unfortunate to suffer a two-goal defeat in the first leg.

It is not that Inter came out all guns blazing on Merseyside, of course; this is the Italian champions in European competition we are talking about.

But their ability to play through Liverpool lines was eye-catching from the off, with the impressive Hakan Calhanoglu key to that.

And the calm manner in which the visitors’ back three dealt with the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane also bred confidence, with Milan Skriniar’s game-high nine clearances marking him out.

As such, while Inter’s best opportunity of an evenly matched first half saw Calhanoglu test Alisson from a free-kick, they had shown enough to suggest that something special could be in the offing in the second period.

You could clearly see those hopes growing close to the hour mark as Lautaro Martinez struck just wide after a beautiful back-to-front move had played him in on goal.

And so it was no surprise the Argentine made no mistake in firing home a beauty from the edge of the box moments later to bring the tie to life and put the fear into Liverpool.

It was at this point, however, that events brought to mind the popular expression which states it is better to be lucky than good when it comes to sport.

Yes, you could argue that Alexis Sanchez was fortunate to still be on the pitch having clearly caught Thiago Alcantara with a studs-up challenge in the opening 45 minutes.

But he probably did not deserve to see a second yellow for a light nick on Fabinho after winning the ball in the second period, an incident which took place just two minutes after the Chile forward had set up Martinez’s strike.

Coming so shortly after the opening goal, that blow sucked all momentum out of Inzaghi’s men, effectively handing Liverpool passage into the quarter-finals on a platter, with Inter not registering another attempt on goal from that point on.

Still, even if the circumstances were somewhat fortuitous, it is hardly likely to have taken the shine off the result for Klopp, whose team have now reached the Champions League last eight in four of the last five seasons.

He would no doubt have preferred to have witnessed a more convincing performance that struck fear into Liverpool’s rivals for European glory this season.

But perhaps what he got was in some ways better: another reminder that this team can see off even elite teams when not at their best. 

As this manager and players are all too aware, you need a combination of quality, mentality and luck to go all in the way in the Champions League, and Liverpool called on all three at various stages of what was a fascinating tie.

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