Joe Gomez gives verdict on Jurgen Klopp withdrawing Sadio Mane during Liverpool defeat

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Liverpool defender Joe Gomez has backed Jurgen Klopp’s decision to withdraw Sadio Mane at half-time in the 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid.

The Reds boss explained that he made the decision to hook Mane over fears he could pick up a second yellow card.

Mane received a caution on around the 40-minute mark for a challenge on Sime Vrsaljko. Then on the stroke of half-time the pair clashed again with Atletico players believing Mane had used his elbow on the right-back. The referee waved away their appeals and blew for the interval shortly after.

“Obviously the plan was to get Sadio out of the game with a yellow card,” Liverpool boss Klopp explained after the game. “I was afraid his opponent would go down even if Sadio takes a deep breath or whatever, so I didn’t want to have that situation. That’s why we took him off.

Sadio Mane and Sime Vrsaljko clashed during the Champions League last-16 tie.

“It was difficult for the referee to deal with the atmosphere but after 30 minutes three Atletico players were already on the ground without being injured. The ref just needs to feel that game a little bit more.”

Gomez agreed with his manager’s decision and claimed the Wanda Metropolitano crowd played their part.

“It is frustrating,” said Gomez.

“We’re all competitors and it’s annoying when you give your all and the ref does something and you feel as though it’s not right. That’s all the manager is saying.

“We’re going to compete but if it’s taken out of our hands by the atmosphere or their reactions then we don’t want to let that disadvantage affect the game.

Mane was withdrawn at half-time.

“We have to stick to our gameplan, play our way and atmosphere plays a big part when the crowd’s jeering at certain moments in the game or fouls and so on. It doesn’t help. It will be a different occasion at Anfield.”

The first leg was decided by a Saul Niguez goal after four minutes. But with the second leg at Anfield Gomez believes there’s not much to worry about.

“It’s only halfway done,” explained the defender.

Klopp was furious at some of the refereeing decisions.

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“We’ve come back from bigger deficits. The second leg is at Anfield so I think there are positives to take. We never want to lose and it’s not something we’ve got in the habit of this year, but I think we dominated the majority of the game. They made it difficult. They played to their strengths, breaking down play, breaking up play, slowing it down, and the atmosphere. We’ll do the same when it comes to the chance to play at Anfield – we’ll use our atmosphere and supporters in the same way.

“We’ve been down way more than this. They’re a good team but we know that we can dominate and play our way and the chances will come. We have to go into the game not thinking we have a mountain to climb.”



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