Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says he “really hated” the moment he had to tell Sadio Mane that his night was over at half-time in the home dressing room. The jet-heeled forward was having one of his best games of the season as he tormented the Atletico Madrid defence but Klopp was not prepared to risk him picking up a second yellow card after the interval with the game virtually won.
“I really hated the moment where I had to take off Sadio because Sadio played an incredible game,” he told BT Sport.
“My worry was any kind of challenge in the air, you never know what happens there with an arm and stuff like this.
“If one of them goes down and does three rolls over, Sadio is off and that would have been the wrong thing.
“In the end, I didn’t like it but in the end we had to do it.”
Liverpool did not take long to get the ball rolling as Trent Alexander-Arnold served the opener on a plate for Diogo Jota to head home passed Jan Oblak.
The right-back’s first-time whipped delivery cut three Atletico defenders out of the game as the unmarked Portuguese international ghosted snuck in to gratefully dispatch from close range.
It was 2-0 shortly after and Alexander-Arnold was the man at the heart of the action again.
After receiving the ball on the right flank, the England international drove the ball low towards goal and the advancing Sadio Mane was there to flick home.
All hell then started to break loose as the Atletico Madrid players lost their temper with the referee, who was in no mood to be messed around.
Brazilian defender Felipe was shown a straight red card after he stopped Mane on the break, although he did continuously ignore the referee Danny Makkelie, who asked him to come and talk.
Liverpool thought they made it 3-0 after the break when Jota collected Joel Matip’s pass and finished cooly but he was ruled offside.
Luis Suarez also looked to have pulled one back for the Spaniard but Atletico were also denied their own goal by VAR.
Overall, a great night for Liverpool who are now guaranteed to finish top of the group of death with two games to spare.
However, there was a sour note as Roberto Firmino hobbled off with a muscle injury. The Reds will now wait to carry out tests on their forward tomorrow.