Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has admitted that he thought Sadio Mane was going to get his marching orders in his side’s 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday.
The attacker was booked in the first half for diving and was then in the centre of a storm in the second when he handled the ball on the ground in an attempt to win a free kick.
Referee Neil Swarbrick awarded the set piece instead to Palace but chose not to show the Senegal international attacker a second yellow, despite penalising him for deliberate handball.
In the second period, the controversy over the call grew as Mane levelled the match.
“I thought he would be sent off for handling the ball. I did not understand it but happy he didn't,” Klopp admitted to BBC Sport.
The German, however, hit out at the decision to book the 25-year-old when he was denied a penalty in the first half.
“For me it's a penalty, it's clear - he's 0.1 seconds too late going down, but it's a penalty,” he said. “With contact how can that be a dive? I spoke to the referee at half-time.
“Around Sadio, there were a few strange situations today and he had to go through 80 minutes of being whistled. It was not a Sadio Mane day today.”
Meanwhile, Adam Lallana’s comeback from injury was halted as he sustained a fresh issue and there are fears he could be ruled out of World Cup 2018.
“It is not good,” Klopp said, analysing the England international’s situation. “He is really down in the dressing room. He's our boy our best friend. It is really difficult, whatever injury it looks like a muscle one.”