Jurgen Klopp admits he may have changed his mind about the need for VAR in football, after another incident-filled match for his Liverpool side in the Champions League.
The Reds’ 1-1 draw with Danish champions FC Midtjylland on Wednesday saw a number of interventions from the video assistant referee.
First Midtjylland were awarded a penalty for a foul by Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher on Anders Dreyer. The forward had initially been flagged offside by the assistant referee but replays showed, eventually at least, that he had been onside, though there was a lengthy delay as the referee headed to the pitchside monitor to rule on Kelleher’s subsequent challenge.
Andreas Scholz converted from the spot to equalise for the home side after Mohamed Salah had opened the scoring.
There was more confusion minutes later when Scholz thought he had smashed the Danes in front after Liverpool failed to clear a free-kick from the left. This time, after an even longer delay, it was found that Sory Kaba had strayed offside as the set-piece was delivered and the goal was chalked off.
Liverpool were next to fall foul. Takumi Minamino’s late strike was initially ruled out for offside, only for replays to show the Japanese star was clearly on. VAR, though, ruled that Sadio Mane had handled the ball in the build-up, though the evidence appeared far from conclusive even after multiple replays.
The game, which had nothing riding on it in terms of final group positions, finished 1-1 after more than eight minutes of stoppage time.
Klopp was asked afterwards about the application of VAR, and admitted that while he had originally been an advocate of bringing technology into the sport, he may now have to reconsider his stance having seen so many controversial incidents – and not just those involving his own team.
“It just took too long,” he said. “I didn’t see it back, if they were right or if they were difficult [decisions] to make, but it took three or four minutes, and in the cold for the boys, it’s really hard.
“I can already hear people saying, ‘my God, is he talking about that again?’ but it took a really long time and it was really cold. That doesn’t help!
“I used to be one of the people who said, ‘yes, VAR is a good idea’ but I’m really not sure if I would say that again, to be honest. Now we have it, and now we have to deal with it.”
Liverpool will assess an injury suffered by Greek left-back Kostas Tsimikas in the second half of Wednesday’s game.
Tsimikas, making only his third Reds start, was replaced by Andy Robertson after 61 minutes after appearing to jar his knee in an innocuous challenge with Dreyer.
Liverpool handed a professional debut to defender Billy Koumetio, who at 18 years and 25 days, became the youngest player to feature for the club in the competition.
Leighton Clarkson, 19, played 90 minutes in midfield, in what was only his third senior appearance.
“We will let them experience this without making this one game too big,” Klopp said. “It’s a wonderful thing to have your first Champions League game, but a career is all about how many you will have.
“Both boys are really skilled but there is a lot to learn. We will give them the time to do so. They helped us a lot tonight because we could rest other players, which was very important.
“I’m pretty sure it was a big night for both of them. I am really thankful they are already as good as they are, that’s the reason we can use them, but I know there is still a lot more to come.”