Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has revealed that he took Sadio Mane off at half-time during their Champions League round of 16 first leg with Atletico Madrid simply due to the fact that he was concerned about the player being sent off.
Mane was substituted after just 45 minutes with the Reds trailing 1-0, leading fans to believe that he had suffered a recurrence of the injury that had ruled him for a couple of weeks.
Told there’s no injury to Sadio Mane. Don’t think it’s that Jurgen Klopp doesn’t trust the player, but rather that he doesn’t trust the referee to not be conned into sending him off.
— David Lynch (@LynchStandard) February 18, 2020
However, journalist David Lynch claimed that the Klopp was concerned about Atletico targeting Mane – who was already on a yellow card – with their over-the-top antics and consequently getting him sent off.
Klopp confirmed these claims after the game, and had this to say on the matter (via the Daily Star):
“It is only half time but you need to be really strong as a referee in this atmosphere. Already in the first 30 minutes, three of their players went to the ground, I don’t know what for.”
Captain Jordan Henderson was also withdrawn with 15 minutes to go after he picked up an injury. Klopp added that the England international had suffered a hamstring problem and would have to be assessed.
As reported by Off The Post, he said:
The Reds’ away form in the Champions League has been awful since the start of last season and will hope that they can find comfort in returning to Anfield – they have lost six of the ten matches they’ve played on the road in Europe in that time.