Former Liverpool pair Michael Owen and Rafa Benitez have claimed that it was the right decision not to send Diogo Jota off against Tottenham Hotspur.
The Portuguese forward, who came off the bench as a second-half substitute for Luis Diaz was involved in a dangerous challenge with Oliver Skipp when his high foot caught the Tottenham midfielder, which left the 22-year-old having to leave the pitch with a head wound that drew blood.
Skipp was left in pain on the Anfield playing surface and had to receive medical attention before being replaced by Richarlison just three minutes later.
After the match, interim head coach Ryan Mason fumed over the leniency to only show Jota a yellow card and instead believed the Liverpool player should have been dismissed for dangerous play.
Mason told Football.London: “I would like an explanation and a reason why it wasn’t. I can understand referees and officials on the pitch missing it even though my feeling was an instant red card because when your foot is studs showing and you’re five and a half feet off the ground and make contact with a player’s head and draw blood, and there is a gash, I think it ticks all the boxes.
“Probably more so an experienced referee in the VAR room, you want him to help the official on the pitch in that moment.
“Listen, it’s decided the game because that player on the pitch shouldn’t have been on there at the end decided the game. I’m pretty sure most football people’s opinions will probably feel the same.”
Owen and Benitez, however, had other ideas about the challenge in which they suggested that Jota was not out to injure Skipp.
The ex-Liverpool and England striker told Optus Sport: “Nobody is accusing him of trying to hurt someone, he’s not that type of player and 99 per cent of players aren’t that type of players, but it was reckless and I think a yellow card was probably the right call.”
Benitez added: “It was very clear, he was trying to play the ball, it wasn’t a bad intention in the tackle. The tackle, he was unlucky, there was no bad intention.”
The fact that Jota remained on the pitch and ended up scoring the winner in injury time summed up exactly the type of luck with Spurs fans are experiencing with their side right now.
While Jota should have been sent off, the same could be said for Skipp after he caught Diaz in a heavy challenge – the reality is that Spurs should never have allowed Liverpool to race to a 3-0 lead and the Reds took their foot off the gas soon after, otherwise, it could have been similar to the Newcastle mauling.
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