Jurgen Klopp refused to be downhearted despite his annoyance at being denied a strong second-half penalty claim in Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Leicester at Anfield on Wednesday.
The result, coming 24 hours after Premier League title rivals Manchester City were beaten at lowly Newcastle, saw Klopp’s team extend their lead at the top of the table to five points.
But it could have been seven points after Sadio Mane gave Liverpool an early lead, only for Harry Maguire to score a dramatic equaliser in first-half injury time.
To compound Klopp’s unhappiness, Maguire had been cautioned just six minutes earlier for a foul on Mane when the Liverpool striker appeared ready to break clear on goal in a counter-attack.
Referee Martin Atkinson deemed that foul worth only a yellow card, and compounded his “crime” in the eyes of home fans when he did not award Liverpool a second-half penalty following what appeared to be Ricardo Pereira’s trip on Naby Keita.
“The 1-1 is okay, even though everybody agrees it should have been a penalty,” said Klopp. “I don’t know why it wasn’t.
“I don’t know what he (Atkinson) saw in this moment, because he had the best position. There was no blood involved, but still, it was a penalty.”
The Liverpool manager, looking to bring the English title to Anfield for the first time in 29 years, continued: “But he doesn’t want to give it, and we can’t tell him to come and look at it again.
“I think we agree it was a penalty, very often I stand here when we got a penalty and have to defend it.”
The German boss added: “And we had the situation with Maguire. I am not the referee, I am the manager, I am not sure, is it smart what he is doing?
“I would say it is a 100 percent goal-scoring chance at least that is something – a situation where there is a goal-scoring chance that tells the ref he has to give a red card.”
The evening had started in perfect fashion for Liverpool as Mane scored their fastest league goal in nearly three years, with just two minutes on the clock, only for Maguire to level in first-half injury time.
The England World Cup defender was left unmarked six yards out, and swept the ball home after Wilfred Ndidi’s shot, following a James Maddison free kick, had been blocked and Ben Chilwell guided the ball back into the area with a clever header.
The goal was the culmination of a half which had seen the tension at Anfield increase as Liverpool pressed for a second goal.
Their opener with just 124 seconds on the clock was a sublime effort that crowned a flowing, 30-pass move.
Eventually, Andrew Robertson’s pass was touched on by Roberto Firmino, and Mane curled into the bottom right-hand corner from 12 yards out.
Firmino was then denied by Kasper Schmeichel before Mane headed wide from the resulting corner.
But as City had done in surrendering an early lead at Newcastle, Liverpool looked nervous and susceptible at the back.
A mistake by goalkeeper Alisson gifted Leicester a chance, which ended with Maddison heading wide unmarked at the far post from all of two yards after 24 minutes.
In an entertaining second half, Maguire had an effort cleared off the line by Firmino, while in the closing stages, Jordan Henderson’s cross picked out Firmino, whose ferocious drive was well parried by the diving Schmeichel.
“We have a point more than before,” said Klopp. “That is not exactly what we wanted to have, but still, everything is fine at the moment.”