Both sides of the argument have merit. As the high but valid boot of Sadio Mané made crunching contact with the face of Manchester City’s sweeping Ederson, you could almost see referee John Moss start reaching for his pocket even while the Brazilian was still collapsing to the turf. On the one hand, replays clearly show that the Liverpool speedster only had eyes for the ball as he stretched to control the long pass, while by contrast, the shot stopper’s head was low and way out of his area—and thusly, ought only to have been judged as an outfield player.
Yet, as Thierry Henry pointed out from the Sky commentary box, such was the blow to head that one got the sense that Moss was moved to draw his red card over the yellow due to the severity of the injury rather than the gravity of the crime.
“Of course, what decided the whole game was the red card,” Jürgen Klopp said in the post-match interview. “What can I say. I don’t think it was a red card, [Mané] didn’t see [Ederson]. It was unlucky, it was an accident. A red card in a game like this is really unlucky to play against City with 10 men.
“I saw how big the chances were. We had all we needed to score prior to the red card.
“Mr. Moss was close to sending me to the stands,” Klopp continued, describing his confrontation with the referee following the card. “I don’t know what he thought, I only know that I had been talking to the fourth official to say that ‘I think it was not a red a card.’
“We have to take it, so that’s how it is. It’s 5-0. I’ve said a few times in my life: better one time 5-0 than five times 1-0.”
Of course, from that point on—with Liverpool down to 10 men and the early title favorites in City already 1-0 up through the customary Sergio Aguero goal—the rest of the game’s script effectively wrote itself. What had been an intriguing contest prior, with TLO’s August Player of the Month, Mohamed Salah running the hapless Nicolás Otamendi ragged and just about approaching the volume of chances he seems to require to convert one, instead became as listless as a 5-0 score line can possibly be.
Nevertheless, it’s all done and dusted now, the result speaking to circumstance and not quality. Now the Reds head back to Merseyside for a short rest before beginning their Champions League campaign Tuesday against Sevilla.