Football

It’s clear and obvious that's there was no penalty, says Juergen Klopp

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said it was "clear and obvious" that Dries Mertens' controversial penalty should not have been given, after the holders lost 2-0 at Napoli in their Champions League opener yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The English Premier League leaders fell behind in the 82nd minute after Jose Callejon went down easily under pressure from Andy Robertson, before substitute Fernando Llorente's stoppage-time strike secured Napoli a 2-0 win.

"I don't think it's a penalty," Klopp told BT Sport.

"What can I say? For me, it is clear and obvious, no penalty. He jumps before any contact, we can't change that."

Former Chelsea and Blackburn Rovers striker Chris Sutton echoed those sentiments.

He wrote in his column for Daily Mail: "I'm sorry, but that was not a foul by Robertson. It was simulation by Callejon. He dived to win the spot-kick, then VAR failed to overturn it.

"It's cheating. He's already going to ground and initiated the contact. VAR should be getting these decisions right. Liverpool were hard done by."

Former Reds defender Mark Lawrenson was not convinced that German referee Felix Brych made the right decision too.

He wrote in his BBC column: "I am far from convinced it was a penalty for Napoli's first goal. The first time I saw it, I thought it was the correct decision, but the more I see it, the less I agree it should have been given.

"But it was still a lazy challenge by Robertson on Callejon, which gave the referee the opportunity to award a spot-kick in the first place."

The Reds became the first holders to lose their opening game of the following Champions League campaign since AC Milan in 1994, as their front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino were all guilty of wasting chances.

Klopp must be hoping that they bring their scoring boots to Stamford Bridge for Sunday's EPL clash against Chelsea.

"It should hurt because there were opportunities for us," added the German.

"It was an open game with a lot of counter-attacks, but we didn't finish them off and that is a problem. We controlled moments, but had not enough chances in the end. We made decisions that were not right and have to accept the result.

"It was very often the final ball that was not right."

Napoli's Hirving Lozano headed in from close range early on but the goal was correctly ruled out for offside, before Mane forced goalkeeper Alex Meret into a save and Firmino flashed a header wide before the break.

Liverpool custodian Adrian denied Mertens with a superb stop early in the second half, before Meret dived to direct Salah's effort wide.

But the late goals from Mertens and Llorente secured the three points for Carlo Ancelotti's side, who also beat Liverpool at home at the same stage last season.

The Italian, though, had a reassuring word for Klopp at the final whistle.

He told Sky Sports Italia: "I told him not to worry, because if he loses here, he tends to go on and win the Champions League." - AFP, REUTERS

Football