Jurgen Klopp accepts defeat but criticises referee over Sadio Mane call

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Carl Markham, PA
·3 min read
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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits his side got what they deserved in a 3-1 quarter-final first leg defeat to Real Madrid which leaves their Champions League hopes hanging by a thread.

However, he took a bizarre swipe at referee Felix Brych for having what he claimed was a personal issue with Sadio Mane after the German official ruled the Senegal international had not been fouled by Lucas Vazquez on the edge of the penalty area as he ran through on goal.

Mohamed Salah’s 26th goal in 44 Champions League matches had given the Reds a vital away goal and brought the score back to 2-1 early in the second half after a dreadful first 45 minutes saw them concede to Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio.

But they conceded another to Vinicius to leave them with a tough task at a fan-less Anfield next week.

“First and foremost I don’t think we deserved to win tonight, we didn’t play good enough and that is my first concern,” said Klopp.

“Especially in the first half we didn’t play good enough football. We conceded the first goal, served the second on a plate (after Trent Alexander-Arnold’s mistake), but that was not the real problem of the game.

Vinicius Junior, right, celebrates scoring against Liverpool
Vinicius Junior, right, celebrates scoring against Liverpool (Isabel Infantes/PA)

“Of course conceding goals is a problem but it is not the problem. The second half we did better, we scored our goal which is the positive of the night and that’s how it is.

“Did we deserve more than the 3-1? I’m not sure.”

Klopp was baffled as to why Mane did not receive a free-kick and Vazquez a red card for the challenge late in the first half.

“The situation with Sadio, what the ref did tonight I have to say I don’t understand,” he added.

Sadio Mane, left, and Lucas Vazquez
Sadio Mane, left, and Lucas Vazquez clashed throughout the game (Isabel Infantes/PA)

“For me that was something personal because he dealt with the situation with Sadio, which was a clear foul, like he was a diver or whatever.

“From that moment on whenever Sadio went down he didn’t get anything. That is not right. That is what I told him after the game, that I thought he was unfair with Sadio.

“That doesn’t change anything at all. He (Brych) didn’t lose the game. We were not good enough to get a better result, but in these moments you need just an ‘OK’ ref. That would have been enough.”

The pace of Vinicius was a problem for Liverpool all night and the Brazilian’s first double in a game was well deserved, according to coach Zinedine Zidane.

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“I am happy for him because what he is doing and what all the guys are doing is a great job, especially from a defensive point of view,” said the Real boss.

“Maybe he was missing some goalscoring with the work he is contributing to the team so to score two goals is big to provide a lot of confidence and he deserves that.

“I don’t know if that was his best match but two goals in the quarter-finals is important for him and the team.

“I am happy because of the football. At the beginning of the second half we had a bit of difficulty but at the end of the day we are happy with 3-1 as it was a huge effort.

“We have to enjoy what we did today.”