Jurgen Klopp admits Sadio Mane was “surprised” at being substituted at half time in Liverpool’s Champions League defeat to Atletico Madrid.
The Liverpool boss said on Tuesday night that he took Mane off because he feared he would be sent off with the Spanish side putting pressure on the referee to issue him a second yellow card.
The holders were already a goal behind when their star man was forced off, but Klopp was adamant he didn’t believe Liverpool could finish the game with 11 if Mane had remained on the pitch.
He said on Friday: “I spoke to him this morning, I asked was he surprised and he said ‘yes’. “I don’t think he had a chance, my honest opinion. We needed him physically, having contact with opponents.
“It’s part of the game, I don’t like it too much, the situation they created with eight players around the referee
“I didn’t believe we could complete the game with 11 with him on the pitch. “But now he’s completely fine, he’s rested which is good as well.”
Klopp said after the defeat in Madrid, which puts Liverpool’s Champions League hopes in the balance: ‘Mane was targeted obviously that was clear.
“Mane played a really good first half and the only thing they wanted was to make sure he got a yellow, said Klopp, whose side lost 1-0 to Saul Niguez’s fourth-minute goal.
“The plan was tonight to get Sadio out of the game,’ added the German. ‘I was afraid his opponent would go down if he took a deep breath.”