Jurgen Klopp admitted Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Manchester United in the Europa League was the “perfect result”, but one thing spoiled an otherwise memorable night for the German.
Spanish referee Carlos Verdasco Carballo showed yellow cards to three Liverpool players and Klopp is concerned the threat of suspension could hurt his team in future matches.
The Liverpool boss expressed his bemusement at some of the cautions handed out by Verdasco Carballo, who also booked three Manchester United players.
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Per the Mirror, Klopp said: “We don't have to criticise the referee because tonight he didn't decide the game. But for the whole tournament, it's difficult if you get a referee [like this].
“I think there were a few yellow cards on both sides where you thought 'why'? Now we have all the bookings and the team who will go through will have the problem in the next round with the yellow cards so that was really difficult tonight.
“We didn't know how to handle it because we didn't know for what? And then you saw Dejan [Lovren] was close to a second yellow because he was not satisfied with his yellow card.
Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson were also booked for Liverpool, while Verdasco Carballo cautioned United’s Marouane Fellaini, Marcus Rashford and Memphis Depay.
Henderson was shown a yellow card in the second minute for a high boot and Klopp felt the referee should have considered the intense Anfield atmosphere.
“It was really hard for a centre half in an atmosphere like this with a yellow card, for Hendo with such an early yellow card,” he added.
“As I say it didn't decide the game tonight but each team who will go through will take these yellow cards with them and that's not too good.”
The threat of suspension will clearly have an affect on the way the second leg is played. Klopp might even consider resting some players who are a booking away from missing the quarter-finals given that his team have a 2-0 advantage.
Although we recently saw one player use the threat of suspension to his advantage.
Gerard Pique was one yellow card away from missing Barcelona’s next Champions League game, so, when Lionel Messi gave the Spanish club a 2-0 lead against Arsenal in the first leg of their last-16 tie, the defender crashed into Danny Welbeck in a seemingly obvious attempt to get a yellow card.
Pique will miss the return leg but that won’t matter. Only a miracle will prevent Barcelona reaching the quarter-finals, for which Pique will return with a clean disciplinary record.
Klopp will be hoping his team score an early goal in the return leg at Old Trafford. That will deem the tie all but over - United will need to score four goals - and Liverpool’s players can then steer clear of making any dangerous tackles.