LIVERPOOL manager Jurgen Klopp has warned his players not to start thinking about a Capital One Cup final appearance - which could yet be a Merseyside derby against Everton.
The Reds scraped through their semi-final 6-5 in a penalty shoot-out over Stoke after Marko Arnautovic’s first-half goal, which replays showed was well offside, had levelled the two-legged tie 1-1 on aggregate.
Everton could join them at Wembley in the first Merseyside final for 27 years if they beat Manchester City on Wednesday - they hold a 2-1 lead - but Klopp does not want his players to start thinking about the occasion just yet.
“At this moment you should not talk too much about it. Being in a final is cool but it is only about winning. You should not make the pressure too big,” he said.
“Don’t start thinking now ‘What could it mean for me’ four weeks before the final.
“I heard about it (a Merseyside final) being the biggest thing but only if you beat them.
“We will watch the game and Man City being a goal down it is possible and if everything comes together in a good way it is a derby at Wembley.
“That will be great for the whole city. This city will have deserved it because it is a great place for football and how Blues and Reds live together in a normal life is how football should be.
“But if you meet each other you should want to beat each other. In a derby do everything that you can do to beat them.”
Asked what winning a trophy at Wembley next month would mean Klopp added: “A really good night in London!”
Stoke boss Mark Hughes was frustrated after the Potters registered their first win at Anfield since March 1959 after 36 previous attempts but still could not celebrate.
“Hopefully we will get the credit we deserve,” he said.
“I am proud of what the players produced. To a man I can’t fault any of them.
“I can highlight Crouchie (Peter Crouch); I haven’t given him a great deal of football this year but I though he was great.
“In general play we got the goal which won us the game but not the tie; I think it was offside marginally but it was the least we deserved.
“We just couldn’t get that second goal and I think Liverpool would be honest to say they were grateful to get to penalties.
“You know when you get to a shoot-out there is a danger you may go out.
“I thought we were more likely to score but unfortunately we are not the ones going to Wembley.”
Liverpool’s performance was less than impressive but Joe Allen’s winning penalty, after goalkeeper Simon Mignolet had saved from Peter Crouch and Marc Muniesa, capped something of a mini-revival for the Wales midfielder.
“We only decided the first five (penalty takers) but he took the ball and he is a good lad,” added Klopp, who did not watch any of the spot-kicks.
“It is not the most easy situation for players when you don’t play from the beginning in matches like this.
“He came in and is a really good character and he decided the game for us.
“I did not see one shot. I was behind the wall of my players so I have to watch it at home.”