Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said the referee made his players look like "butchers" during Wednesday's 2-1 UEFA Champions League loss to Paris Saint-Germain, but Thomas Tuchel disagreed with the assessment and said his counterpart was trying to deflect attention with his comments.
Les Parisiens emerged victorious, but one of the main stories from the contest was referee Szymon Marciniak's performance. He booked six Liverpool players, didn't send off Marco Verratti after a heavy challenge and initially opted against awarding a penalty for an incident between Sadio Mane and Angel Di Maria.
Per BT Sport (h/t Glenn Price of ESPN FC), Klopp was far from pleased:
"The problem I have a little bit is that I, again, have to create the stories with my name -- 'Klopp said,' 'Klopp said.' But I saw the penalty. For me, it was a clear situation -- it was inside [the penalty area].
"He didn't even whistle a foul. I have no clue why that happened. Then I saw the Verratti foul and wow.
"It's difficult. We lost the game because we were not 100 percent and not outstandingly good.
"But it's a tight game in a very important competition. How many yellow cards did we have -- five, six, seven? It was crazy. The holding of somebody is the same colour as Verratti's foul?
"... The little hurdle was then the 500,000 interruptions in the second half. The ref still thinks he did everything right.
"I think two or three times in a row, we are the fairest team in England. Tonight we look like butchers because we were constantly down. It looks like we used elbows and everything."
As Goal's Dejan Kalinic reported, Tuchel disagreed and thought the Reds played with lots of aggression:
"I did not feel like it was such a big issue. We had five minutes overtime, we suffered a lot of fouls.
"You don't have to do fouls if you're one goal down and you do 10 fouls in five minutes.
"You think it's the other way around in a crucial match like that? I've never experienced it the other way around that the team goes to hurry that everyone has the chance to make an equaliser. ...
"When I lose big games I am angry and I sometimes talk about stuff just to bring the attention to something else and away from my team.
"I do this also but it's not my issue. You'll have to ask Jurgen for that and I heard he has his opinion to that and that's fine. I'm talking about the game."
Juan Bernat and Neymar got the goals for the hosts, who were the better side for large stretches of Wednesday's contest. James Milner converted the penalty that was initially not given just before half-time, but the Reds failed to find an equaliser.
The result dropped Liverpool to third place in Group C, with Napoli taking a one-point lead over PSG and opening up a three-point gap to the Reds. The Italians will travel to Anfield on the final matchday of the group stage.
While Les Parisiens served up one of their best European performances in a long time, the way they won did not go down well with some. ESPN FC's Craig Burley voiced his criticism:
So did 2018 Ryder Cup-winning captain Thomas Bjorn:
The Daily Mail's Dominic King singled out Neymar as the biggest culprit, accusing him of diving whenever a Liverpool player came too close to him.
But while the supposed play-acting and time-wasting may have been frustrating to watch, the outcome was fully deserved. Per WhoScored.com, the French champions held Liverpool to a single shot on target—Milner's penalty—compared to an impressive eight for the hosts.
The Reds will have to beat Napoli on December 11 to advance to the knockout stages of the tournament. A 1-0 win or a win by two clear goals will do for the Premier League side.
A win at Red Star Belgrade on the final matchday will suffice for PSG regardless of the result at Anfield.