It was a tough night for Liverpool in London in a match that was a bit of a chaotic mess before ending 2-2. The match narrative included Liverpool missing four players due to COVID-19, defensive errors, a howler from Alisson Becker, and an Andy Robertson goal. However, the officiating will go down as the biggest story.
Harry Kane very easily could have been sent off for Tottenham in the first half after a studs-up sliding challenge on Liverpool’s Andy Robertson, but he was lucky to get away with just a caution. Later on, the Reds had a penalty shout when Diogo Jota was barged over from behind by Emerson Royal as he prepared to shoot, but it was waved off by referee Paul Tierney.
Finally, Andy Robertson was shown red for a poor challenge of his own in the 77th minute. He was initially shown a yellow, but VAR took a look and Tierney changed the yellow to red. There was no arguing that the sending-off was the correct decision, but it was difficult to not feel the decision was unjust after Kane was only shown yellow for what looked to be a more dangerous tackle.
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp was understandably frustrated by the way the referee’s decisions went against his side in his post-match press conference, though he didn’t shy away from admitting that Robertson deserved the red he received.
“Game would have been different with 2 decisions. Robbo [Robertson]...yes, red card. Not the smartest. He’s a good boy but he lost it a bit. That was proof VAR was there, before that we thought he wasn’t in his office!” said Klopp.
The VAR comment was a reference to the VAR seemingly not taking a second look at the Kane tackle and the potential foul against Jota in the Spurs box. As for what he thought of those particular decisions, the German manager didn’t mince his words.
“I think we all agree Harry Kane should have been sent off.
“Tierney told me Jota waited for it. A quick decision from him, he saw it. How can he react that quick. A clear penalty, wow. That’s two wrong decisions from him. One right. All three against us.”
With there being a widespread belief that English players, especially white English players, tend to receive more favorable refereeing than their foreign colleagues, Klopp was also asked if he believed Kane’s nationality and status as captain of the England National Team helped him avoid seeing the red card he deserved.
While he didn’t wade into that debate, he did point out that the dangerous nature of Kane’s tackle is why a red was deserved regardless of the actual outcome of the play.
“I have no idea if [Kane’s England captaincy] helps him. It’s a 100% red card. This situation, if Robbo’s foot is on the ground, it breaks his leg. A red card but ref saw it differently.”