'It's not 100% right' - Jurgen Klopp not happy with referee Martin Atkinson as Liverpool cling on to beat Brighton
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp suggested referee Martin Atkinson was wrong to allow Brighton to take a quick free-kick that set up a frantic finale on a tense afternoon at Anfield.
Klopp's side clung on for a 2-1 win after courtesy of two first half Virgil van Dijk headed goals, but there was a twist in the tale as keeper Alisson Becker was sent-off for handling the ball outside of his box in the closing stages and Brighton's Lewis Dunk scored from the resulting free-kick.
The visitors came close to snatching a point in the final few minutes as tension gripped the Liverpool players and fans at Anfield, yet Klopp argued referee Atkinson should not have allowed the free-kick to be taken quickly as replacement keeper Adrian was thrust into the game.
"I think in a situation like this, when you have sense for human beings, you don't do it like this," he stated, as he gave his verdict on Dunk's goal.
"It was very clever from Brighton, but the keeper has just come on and is trying to set the wall. They are trying to get used to each other and the referee lets it go like this. We cannot change it but for me it's not 100% right."
Klopp insisted he was happy with the performance of his players, on a day when they opened up an 11-point gap at the top of the table following Manchester City's 2-2 draw at Newcastle earlier in the day.
"It was unnecessary (to have tension at the end of the game), of course, because we had unbelievable chances. Their keeper made some good saves," he added.
"It was difficult this game because Brighton are a good football side. They put players between the lines. They put so many players there so it's difficult to defend. They had a lot of possession and we had to work really hard. I loved that the boys were prepared to do that after a busy week.
"We then had the red card for Alisson. Adrian comes in with cold feet and cold hands, but made two really good saves. The boys threw everything on the pitch. It's unbelievable how much they want to win. They made it a really special win."
Liverpool match-winner Van Dijk also expressed his frustration at the tense end to the game, as he gave credit to a Brighton side that featured an impressive performance from Ireland striker Aaron Connolly.
"Obviously we're disappointed with the way we ended the game," he told Liverpoolfc.com.
"We conceded a bit of a strange free-kick, the red card for Alisson, and we should have done better, but it's not easy to play every couple of days and make sure we are more than 100 per cent.
"The beginning of the first half was good, towards the end of the first half I think we should have done better. But it's something we have to look at and try to improve.
"They are a very good side, you have to give them credit. They played well, brave and tried to get out of our press and at times it worked. So you have to give them credit. But we wanted the three points and got them.
"We have to show character, we have to fight. It was not an easy game, especially at the end. We had to dig deep and we did."
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