Sunday 26 January 2020

So VAR so good as Pool end 2019 with victory

Liverpool 1 Wolves 0

RED TIDE: Sadio Mane celebrates the winner against Wolves. Photo: REUTERS
RED TIDE: Sadio Mane celebrates the winner against Wolves. Photo: REUTERS

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits what his side have done at the midpoint of their season could not be matched by many teams but he expects a real fight for the next 19 matches.

A 1-0 win over Wolves thanks to Sadio Mane's 14th goal of the campaign just before half-time made it 18 wins and a draw so far as they re-established their 13-point lead at the top.

"If it would be easy to win the amount of games we have done then more teams would have done it. It's not easy," he said.

"We have to fight with all we have. I couldn't be more proud of what they did a gain to get that result over the line. It was just impressive. I'm really happy about that.

"But there is a long way to go for all of us. Everybody asks me what it was like in 2019 - my 2019 team was brilliant but that's not important, we count seasons, not years.

"The 2019-20 season is not over. We are halfway there. There are 19 games to play. That's a lot and probably 19 of them will be like this tonight, for different reasons.

"We will be facing teams who will be fighting for the league with all they have, and the fight for the Champions League and Europa League has opened up again.

"We have to be ready. Who cares about points in December? We have just created a basis we can work with from now on."

VAR dominated the post-match discussion as Mane's goal was originally ruled out for handball by Adam Lallana by referee Anthony Taylor only him to overturn that after a referral.

Moments later Wolves scored through Pedro Neto only for the equaliser to be chalked off as Jonny's foot was deemed to be marginally offside.

"I think Nuno wasn't happy with the VAR procedure. What can we say about the decision? For me, I was surprised when the whistle came for the handball," added Klopp.

"I thought it was a clear shoulder from the first second. But how can you be sure? So it took a while.

"After three minutes the decision was done. I saw immediately a kind of relief for a second, we are human beings so that's normal.

"But the next long ball we weren't there for the second ball, Adam makes a foul. Free-kick, corner, (Wolves) goal.

"It didn't count obviously but it brought the momentum to their side.

"They were really aggressive and really angry with us as well, we had nothing do with that situation but sometimes that's how it happens."

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo refused to discuss VAR's impact on the game.

"I am sorry but today I don't want to speak about VAR, it is not about that. I just don't want to mention anything about it," he said. "The only thing is the decisions are being taken by a referee that is miles away from here and he doesn't feel the game, he is not at the game.

"I am a coach, I have to think about my own things but what we don't want is what is happening - Liverpool are a fantastic team, club, stadium and we are celebrating a non-goal. Come on."

Wolves captain Conor Coady was happy, though, to hit out at what he called the Premier League's ridiculous use of VAR.

A seething Coady, who came through the Liverpool academy, called for better communication between the authorities, officials and players as the VAR technology is implemented in England's top flight.

"We feel massively hard done by. I can't get my head around it. It's ridiculous," Coady said. "For me it (VAR) is not working. Some people are saying it gets the right decision but we're the players on the pitch and it doesn't feel right to me. Anthony Taylor is a great fellow to speak to, but I ask a question and I don't get an answer."

Coady explained that his side's main grievance was not from the decision reached over Lallana's control, but because they felt the ball had been handled earlier in the move by Virgil van Dijk, whose long pass to Lallana led to the goal.

"It is horrible for me, it is tough to take," he said. "We thought Van Dijk handballed it, but the referee tells me Van Dijk is too far away. He played the pass. VAR is affecting the game. No-one has asked us (players) about it.

"It is still confusing, I can't get my head around it, you don't get answers on the pitch."

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