Jurgen Klopp launched into a furious tirade about Liverpool’s fixture schedule after Pascal Gross’s controversial late penalty rescued a dramatic 1-1 draw for Brighton at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.
Klopp’s side took the lead through Diogo Jota’s second half strike after Brighton’s Neal Maupay had missed a penalty in the first half.
But Liverpool were stunned in stoppage time when Andrew Robertson’s challenge on Danny Welbeck was ruled a penalty after Stuart Attwell used VAR to overturn his initial decision.
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Gross converted from the spot, leaving Klopp sarcastically applauding the officials at the end of a disappointing week for Liverpool after their shock Champions League defeat at home to Atalanta.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson claimed Welbeck told him it wasn’t a penalty, but Klopp would not take the bait when asked if he disagreed with the decision.
“You try to create again, on my cost, a headline, because that’s how it is. If I say now it was not… the ref whistled it,” Klopp said in a fractious exchange with a BT Sport interviewer.
“Don’t look like this, you try, always, all the time. Today I say it was a penalty, you are not happy with that answer, so keep your answers to yourself.”
Liverpool went back to the top of the table as a result of their draw, but the champions are just one point ahead of previous leaders Tottenham.
Tottenham would regain pole position if they avoid defeat at Chelsea on Sunday, while the Blues will go top if they win the London derby.
It was one of those days for Liverpool, who also saw goals correctly disallowed by VAR for offside against Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
There was more bad news for injury-ravaged Liverpool as James Milner was forced off in the second half.
Milner’s injury provoked Klopp’s rant during his post-match interview as he repeated his recent complaints about Liverpool featuring in the early Saturday match after playing in the Champions League just three days earlier.
Asked if Milner had a hamstring problem, Klopp took aim at television schedulers and Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder, who has criticised his counterpart over his desire to allow five substitutions instead of the current three.
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“Yeah, congratulations. You work for them yeah? Hamstring, surprise, and Brighton had injuries but ask Chris Wilder how we can avoid that,” Klopp said.
“I don’t know how often I have to say it, you picked the 1230, not you personally, but you did it, us on 1230, between now and December and New Year, one more Wednesday.
“I’ve not had a go at the broadcaster, I just say how it is. After Wednesday, Saturday 12.30 is really dangerous for the players.
“When we had a talk between managers, a week ago, it was 55, if not 60 (per cent) for five subs. Since then nothing happened.
“Chris Wilder or whoever says constantly that I am selfish. I think all the things that shows is that he’s selfish.
“I was in a similar situation when I worked at Mainz and it was all about staying in the league, but they (Sheffield United) have three subs and one point if I am right.”
It was a tough day for Klopp, who saw Aaron Connolly tripped by Neco Williams in the 20th minute.
Maupay stepped up to take the spot-kick, but his side-foot effort went wide despite Alisson Becker diving the wrong way.
In the 60th minute, Robertson found Salah and his pass teed up Jota to drill into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Liverpool were seconds away from three points when Robertson went to clear in his own area as Welbeck closed in.
Robertson’s foot made contact with Welbeck, but there were few appeals from Brighton before Attwell awarded a contentious penalty after consulting the pitchside monitor.
With Maupay off the pitch, Gross took this one and fired down the middle to salvage an unexpected point.
EVERTON BOSS’ TEARFUL OPENING
Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti was reduced to tears before his side’s 1-0 loss to Leeds as respects were paid to Maradona before all Premier League games this weekend with a minute’s applause.
An enthralling 90 minutes followed at Goodison Park with chances aplenty for both sides despite just one goal, scored by Raphinha 11 minutes from time.
James Rodriguez and Richarlison had goals ruled out for offside before the break, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin dragged a big chance wide for Everton early in the second-half.
But it was Leeds who had the majority of the chances as Jordan Pickford made a brilliant save to deny Patrick Bamford, while Raphinha and Jack Harrison failed to hit the target with clear openings.
Raphinha finally made the breakthrough when he arrowed a low left-footed shot beyond Pickford from 25 yards to move Marcelo Bielsa’s men up to 11th.
A fourth defeat in five games leaves Everton still in sixth.
CITY CONTINUE BURNLEY DOMINANCE
Pep Guardiola said his forward players have to score more goals after ending a recent drought with a 5-0 thrashing of Burnley to bounce back to winning ways in the Premier League.
Riyad Mahrez scored a hat-trick, while Benjamin Mendy and Ferran Torres bagged their first Premier League goals as City eased to within six points of league leaders Liverpool with a game in hand.
It is the fourth-straight season Manchester City have beat Burnley 5-0 at the Etihad.
Meanwhile, City have extended their impressive record to have won the last seven encounters with Burnley by a combined score of 28-1.
Guardiola’s men had scored just seven goals in their previous seven league games to slip to 14th in the table before kick-off.
“We have to score, that’s why they are here and play up front,” said Guardiola.
“Especially for Riyad. Gabriel (Jesus) has to score, (Raheem) Sterling when he plays has to score goals.
“The most important thing now is we have almost 21 players fit; this is important.”
Mahrez was one of four changes Guardiola made from a 1-0 win at Olympiakos in midweek that booked City’s place in the last 16 of the Champions League, and he took the most of his chance to start with Sterling left on the bench.
The Algerian opened the floodgates on six minutes as he swept home Kevin De Bruyne’s pass.
Mahrez then outwitted a sleeping Burnley defence as he latched onto Kyle Walker’s throw-in before dancing round three challenges and firing in off the far post.
De Bruyne was handed a rare rest in midweek and the Belgian was back to his best with another assist for Benjamin Mendy to score his first City goal over three years since arriving from Monaco.
The French left-back produced an exquisite finish by cushioning De Bruyne’s cross back across Bailey Peacock-Farrell, who had a Premier League debut to forget in the absence of England international Nick Pope.
After City’s struggles to score goals in recent weeks, the hosts made sure to cash in after the break rather than saving their energies for a hectic upcoming schedule.
Torres has been prolific in the Champions League since his signing from Valencia, but the Spanish international finally opened his Premier League account with a smart finish from Gabriel Jesus’s lay-off.
Torres was then replaced by Phil Foden and with his first touch Foden was the provider for Mahrez to complete his hat-trick in uncharacteristic fashion with a bullet header at the back post.
“Probably the last one (was my favourite) because I don’t score too many with my head,” said Mahrez.
“Of course when you play in front and don’t score you have a bit of frustration but we had to keep working, training to get the confidence back.”
VAR came to Peacock-Farrell’s rescue after he turned the ball into his own net after a fine save to deny Jesus, with the goal ruled out for offside against the Brazilian striker.
Burnley boss Sean Dyche was angry at his side’s display as they were beaten 5-0 for the fourth straight visit to the Etihad.
“We didn’t turn up,” said Dyche.
“You are still looking for a performance. We didn’t get that in the first half. You can’t let these get their noses in front.”