Attempting to conduct his post-match interview in a media tent outside Stadium de Toulouse, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was annoyed by the noise of the home fans.
“We were as organised as this press conference – pretty chaotic,” said a visibly angry Klopp, as Toulouse supporters chanted and banged on the tent.
The bedlam left Klopp struggling to hear questions or translations from the interpreter, after Uefa allowed the media conference to take place outside the ground.
It provided a fitting coda to a deeply infuriating evening for Klopp, who had seen his Liverpool side stunned in Toulouse.
Just two weeks after a thumping 5-1 win at Anfield over a side just one point above the Ligue 1 relegation play-off place, the Reds produced a subpar performance in a 3-2 defeat.
While Liverpool were left aggrieved by a late Jarell Quansah equaliser being disallowed for handball following a lengthy and confusing VAR check, Klopp said the primary reason for the loss was their own performance.
“We were not aggressive enough,” he said. “We gave balls easily away. Real mistakes.
“With all the possession you have obviously you should create more but you cannot concede three goals here, that makes no sense.
“They fought harder and it was deserved. Congratulations to Toulouse.
“You can play as good as you want but if you don’t win decisive battles you have no chance in football.”
‘For me it’s not a handball’
Despite making nine changes to the team which started the draw at Luton Town in the Premier League on Sunday, Liverpool’s XI featured plenty of first-team strength – including Luis Diaz, starting his first match following the release of his father by kidnappers in Colombia.
Liverpool’s bench was particularly eye-catching. Mohamed Salah, Dominik Szoboszlai and Trent Alexander-Arnold all came on at half-time – but made little impact.
Darwin Nunez was introduced when the visitors pulled the score back to 2-1, while Diogo Jota was thrown on with 10 minutes of normal time to play, and found the net to make it 3-2.
Yet even a point would have flattered Liverpool, for whom the defeat could have been even worse had Thijs Dallinga not had two goals ruled out for a foul and offside respectively.
Liverpool lacked flow and created few clear-cut chances until the frantic final minutes.
The peak of the chaos came seven minutes into stoppage time when Toulouse failed on multiple occasions to clear their lines, allowing young centre half Quansah to seemingly slam home his first senior goal.
But several phases earlier in the move, the ball had ricocheted off Alexis Mac Allister’s chest into his arm.
Bulgarian referee Georgi Kabakov had already pointed to the centre circle, seemingly indicating ‘check complete’ – but then was called to the VAR screen, and subsequently disallowed the goal.
“I only saw the video back now and for me it’s not a handball – but how can I decide that?” said Klopp.
Former Liverpool players were angered, including Steve McManaman on television co-commentary, while Sky pundit Jamie Carragher reposted his own comment on X from Wednesday night, describing VAR as a “disgrace”.
‘I would have loved us to have played better’
However, condemnation of the decision was not universal.
“A great finish by Quansah who thought he had equalised but I think it was rightly ruled out in the end,” former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis told TNT Sports.
“He showed real determination to get his side back in the game, like I said a good finish from the defender, but it is a handball.”
And Klopp had to grudgingly admit Liverpool’s own defensive failings had played the primary role in defeat.
“I am a bit more concerned that I would have loved us to have played better, to be honest. That’s my main issue tonight,” he said.
“In the end we were intense, we threw everything in, but the problem is in a football game you have to make the decisive things in the right moment to do them right.”
Liverpool are still set to qualify for the Europa League knockout stages, but their path is not as clear as it seemed before kick-off.
Victory in Toulouse combined with LASK beating Union Saint-Gilloise would have seen Liverpool through as group winners. LASK won 3-0 to hold up their end of the bargain, but the Reds could not follow through.
One win from their final two matches will ensure Liverpool at least finish in the top two. If they beat LASK and Toulouse fail to defeat Union SG in the next round of games, Klopp’s side are definitely through to the last 16.
Until then, he and his team must wait – and accept the noisy joy of the Toulouse fans.