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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has disclosed why he “hated” taking off Sadio Mane against Atletico Madrid

Diogo Jota and Mane scored early goals, which were quickly followed by a red card for Atleti defender Felipe, and the visitors tried every trick in the book to restore numerical parity.

Mane had been marked out by the opposition from the start, as he had been in their last-16 encounter in Madrid in February 2020, and Klopp, at that time, decided to reduce the risk by substituting the Senegalese international at half-time.

It was unfair on Mane, who had seemed up for the fight, and it backfired when his substitute, Roberto Firmino, just lasted 33 minutes before leaving with a hamstring injury, adding to Klopp’s injury list.

“I think everyone in the stadium expected it. I thought it was the right thing to do and I hated it more than you can imagine,” said Klopp.

“I was not worried that Sadio cannot handle his emotions – he was calm but the thing is the ball comes in the air for a headed challenge and the (Atletico) player goes down.

“We all saw what the Madrid players did, rolling around to try to equal the number of players again. I didn’t like it but it was the right thing to do.”

Because Atletico was reduced to 10 men, Liverpool’s job was made simpler, and unlike two of their previous four matches, they were not given a two-goal cushion as they qualified with two games to spare as champions of the so-called ‘Group of Death,’ which also included AC Milan and Porto.

Klopp’s team won four consecutive Champions League group games for the first time in club history, equaling Bob Paisley’s league record of 25 games without defeat achieved between March and September 1982.

“If Firmino hadn’t gone off with a hamstring injury it would have been much better,” added Klopp.

“Pretty much from all our points of view, it was a good performance. I wouldn’t have expected that when I saw the draw. No one would have expected that so doing it was pretty special.

“For tonight job is done, two games to go and we will try everything to win those too.”

Klopp and Diego Simeone, the manager of Atletico Madrid, had contrary viewpoints on Felipe’s red card.

“I didn’t see a red card, but I did see a yellow card, and his foot was high, and it struck his (Mane’s) Achilles.” So it’s a red card,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said.

“Do I want the opposing team to lose a player?” No. However, given the tight timeline, it’s critical to keep the game under control. I don’t believe it has changed significantly, but it is still a separate game.

Also Read:- Solskjaer faced a flood of criticism after Liverpool beat Manchester United

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