Joel Matip was unable to finish out an otherwise immense showing, turning into his own net deep into the 96th minute of the match after Cody Gakpo’s first half equalizer while down to 10 men had given his side a chance at the points.
But it was the absolute horror show from the officiating crew led by Simon Hooper—the same referee who had been previously stood down for that farce decision not to show Manchester United’s Andre Onana a red card on Opening Day—that ultimately took center stage. It appeared at times that each one of the referee, the two line judges and the VAR official Darren England were competing to do outdo one another in making inane decisions all game.
A brainless VAR review failed to employ even a rudimentary understanding of football, physics and the human anatomy to turn a coming together of Curtis Jones and Spurs’ Yves Bissouma into a red card sending off a mere 26 minutes in. Replays clearly showed the Liverpool midfielder a) getting to the ball first b) Jones’ foot rolling over top of the ball in a manner no human reasonably could control and only then colliding with the Tottenham player.
VAR then doubled down its incompetency late in the first period, failing to even attempt to draw the virtual lines on the broadcast to show that Luis Diaz was miles—miles—onside when he equalized for the Reds after Heung-Min Son had put the home side ahead.
But then the headless refeering continued into the 2nd half, with neither Hooper or the line judge seeing that halftime substitute Diogo Jota had not made any contact whatsoever with Tottenham’s Destiny Udogie on a breakaway, with the Spurs’ left back clipping his own heels and going down.
Sack them all.
Jota did himself no favors when minutes later he slid in carelessly to earn a 2nd yellow, but it was the earlier poor call that even gave Hooper that decision to make.
“I’m now relatively calm,” a shockingly sober-looking manager Jurgen Klopp said in his post-match comments to Sky Sports. “The players were calm. It’s difficult to deal with [these sorts of referee decisions].
“I was never more proud of the team than today. I never saw a game like this with the most unfair circumstances, crazy decisions.
“[For Diogo Jota] the first yellow was not a yellow. Then he gets a second and to defend with nine players is tricky. You want to build something you need players with mentality and I saw them today, they fought. Pretty special tonight.”
“I came in at half time, one of my assistants opened their smartphone and the first replay on Instagram showed that there was no offside,” the boss continued regarding the erroneous decision to rule out a Luis Diaz equalizer.
“We saw it in the game, that it was 100% clear. It’s not cool, but the performance and how we found a way in this game is incredible.”
The refereeing body PGMOL admitted as much after the game, stating that a “clear an obvious factual error” led to the decision not to award Diaz his deserved goal.
BREAKING:— Watch LFC (@Watch_LFC) September 30, 2023
PGMOL CONFIRM DÍAZ GOAL INCORRECTLY RULED OFFSIDE.
“VAR failed to intervene”. pic.twitter.com/Bqx3TlCbaP
And yet the Reds did their best to overcome the decline in the quality of English officiating, rising up after each set back by bossing the game with 11 men, demonstrating that they were still the vastly superior side with 10 on the pitch, and even threatening even when down to nine.
“What I would like to talk much more about the performance of my team,” Klopp made a point to acknowledge. “The mentality, the desire they showed. I couldn’t be more proud.”
“Usually in football you can resolve problems if you are good.”
“I think we would’ve deserved a point. We would’ve celebrated the point like five points. But we didn’t get it so we have one point less.”
Darwin Núñez gets it. He just gets it. pic.twitter.com/YkCgpXrIxt— Watch LFC (@Watch_LFC) September 30, 2023
The sight of Reds center back trio of Virgil Van Dijk, Joel Matip and Ibrahima Konate huddling at a late corner with the game tied and down to nine men, plotting on how they were going to win the header and take the lead. Dominik Szobozlai busting a gut to chase a back pass deep into the final minutes of the match. Jurgen Klopp beating his chest telling his side to show heart as the visitors strained to hold onto the point. Unused substitute Darwin Nunez firing up the traveling fans after the game imploring them to keep hope.
The mentality monsters are back and Liverpool supporters can be proud of this side as any they have had of over these years of trophy-laden success.