Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp insists he 'HATED' substituting goalscorer Sadio Mane at half-time to protect him from a second yellow card in win over Atletico Madrid
- Liverpool easily defeated Atletico Madrid to win 2-0 in the Champions League
- Sadio Mane had scored their second goal in just the 21st minute of the match
- But he had also been booked in the first half and was targeted by Atletico stars
- As a precaution, Klopp replaced the striker at half-time for Roberto Firmino
- Reds cruised into the last-16, while also now going 25 games unbeaten
Jurgen Klopp hailed Liverpool’s professionalism as they secured their places in the Champions League knockout phase with two games to spare.
A 2-0 dismissal of Atletico Madrid means Liverpool are now unbeaten in 25 games, stretching back to April, and that equals a club record that was set by Bob Paisley’s then reigning European champions over a nine-month period in 1982.
Crucially, they are into the last 16 without needing anything from games against Porto and AC Milan and Klopp was delighted with the attitude his players showed in subduing Atletico, who once again finished a game with 10-man after defender Felipe was given a red card for fouling Sadio Mane.
Jurgen Klopp attends to Sadio Mane during Liverpool's 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid, before reluctantly substituting him at half-time in the Champions League tie
While on a booking, Mane was subject to provocation from Atletico Madrid players
‘If Bobby (Firmino) had not gone off with a hamstring it would have been much better night,’ said Klopp. ‘From what I saw when the draw was made, I wouldn’t have expected this would happen with two games to go. Doing it is very special. Job done but we will try to win the last two games.’
Liverpool were in control when Felipe was sent off. It was a surprise decision by referee Danny Makkelie but Klopp said: ‘Do I want it one man down? No. But it was a kick on the back of the achilles and the rules say that is a red card. I do not think it changed too much after that but of course it is a different game with 10 men.’
There were concerns Liverpool might finish with a red card of their own but Klopp made the decision to withdraw Sadio Mane, who scored the second goal, after he was involved in skirmishes with Atletico’s defence.
The forward was involved with numerous first half collisions with the opposition
But Mane also enabled Liverpool to breeze into a 2-0 lead as early as the 21st minute
‘I hated doing that more than you can imagine,’ said Klopp. ‘I was not worried about Sadio handling his emotions but I was worried about him going up for a high ball and something happening.’
Diego Simeone, Atletico’s manager, refused to blame the officials for the outcome and was concentrating instead on securing his side’s passage through to join Liverpool.
‘Another game with one player less and when you play against a team as good as Liverpool it is very complicated,’ said Simeone.
‘Other teams would have fallen apart but we stayed calm. We can now look forward to passionate games against Milan and Porto to make sure we qualify.’
Klopp hugs Roberto Firmino after the forward, who replaced Mane, was forced off injured
Liverpool's comfortable win now takes them to 25 games unbeaten in all competitions
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