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Klopp : I had to prevent Mane's Wanda OFF; and boss has hendo fitness concern.

Byline: IAN DOYLEat Wanda Metropolitano Stadium

JURGEN KLOPP admits he substituted Sadio Mane to prevent the forward being sent off in Liverpool's Champions League defeat at Atletico Madrid.

And the Reds are now sweating on the fitness of Jordan Henderson, after the skipper limped off with a hamstring problem.

Saul Niguez's fourth-minute strike earned Atletico a 1-0 win in the round of 16 first leg at the Wanda Metropolitano last night.

Liverpool struggled to fashion chances and were knocked out of their stride by the spoiling tactics of the Spaniards, who attempted to get referee Szymon Marciniak to send off Mane in the moments after the Senegalese was booked for a tangle with Simi Vrsaljko.

Mane then failed to appear for the second half, and Klopp explained: "It's part of football and I don't like it, but obviously the plan tonight was to get Sadio out of the game with a yellow card and then a possible second.

"I was a little afraid his opponent would go down even if Sadio only even takes a deep breath (near him).

"I didn't want to have that situation, so that's why I took him off."

Henderson was replaced with 10 minutes remaining after needing treatment on the pitch.

Klopp played down fears of a serious problem, although the skipper will undergo a scan when Liverpool return to Melwood.

"Hendo felt his hamstring, unfortunately," said the Reds boss.

"We have to wait. He was not too concerned but enough to go off, obviously."

Mohamed Salah was also substituted during the second half, but Klopp added: "Mo was just a tactical change. We wanted to change things a little bit and we did."

Klopp, meanwhile, says he deserved his yellow card from Marciniak - but added: "It was difficult for the referee to deal with the atmosphere tonight. After 30 minutes, three Atletico players were already on the ground without being injured.

"The ref just needs to feel that game a little bit more. The crowd wanted to help their team tonight. That makes it a very emotional game.

"I wasn't disappointed with the game, we have played much worse games. We had to try to be really calm. I liked a lot of parts of our game, but we have to be better in the final third. We have to try it."

On his own carding from Marciniak, Klopp added: "I deserved it. I was just shouting in the direction, no bad words, I was not swearing.

"I was just unhappy with the overall performance and in that moment it finally came out and the ref didn't like it too much. I can take that, I deserved the yellow card."

Klopp warned Atletico Madrid their Champions League tie will be "different" in the second leg at Anfield.

"It's half-time and we are 1-0 down," said the Reds boss. "Why should we give up? "Even better, the second half will be in a different stadium, our stadium, that will be different and Atletico will feel that and that's what we are looking forward to.

"I had no problem with the result.

"I saw so many happy faces from Atletico tonight, I get that because it's a big win, but it's not over yet. That's the only thing I feel.

"It's only 1-0. We are not 5-0 down or whatever. We think we have a chance.

"There are five, six, seven things we can obviously do better. If we do that better, then it will be difficult (for Atletico).

"We feel we are in the game.

That's what we have to use.

"We want to go through. How much, we will show after the first whistle in the second leg.

"For all Atletico fans who can get a ticket for the game, welcome to Anfield "

I was a little afraid his opponent would go down even if Sadio only even takes a deep breath (near him). Jurgen Klopp

CAPTION(S):

Jurgen Klopp; and, inset, Diego SIMEONE
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Author:IAN DOYLEat Wanda Metropolitano Stadium
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUSP
Date:Feb 19, 2020
Words:660
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