Jurgen Klopp, the Liverpool boss, has said that referee Paul Tierney appears to have something “against” his team after the remarkable ending to their 4-3 win over Tottenham. Diogo Jota scored an injury-time winner for the Reds just 99 seconds after Richarlison had equalised for Spurs, making it 3-3. Klopp was furious with Spurs being awarded a free-kick which led to their equaliser and ran to scream at the fourth official after the winner, but hurt his leg in front of the Tottenham bench and was shown a yellow card by the referee. He said: “We have our history with Tierney, I really don’t know what he has against us. He has said there [are] no problems but that cannot be true. How he looks at me, I don’t understand it.” PGMOL, the body responsible for Premier League referees, said that they had “fully reviewed the audio of referee Paul Tierney from today’s fixture” and that they “strongly refute any suggestion that Tierney’s actions were improper”. Former England striker Alan Shearer told BBC Match of the Day that Paul Tierney “could have sent Diogo Jota off and he [Klopp] isn’t too quick to mention that”. Klopp was lucky to only get a yellow card and it’s not the first time he has done it. On his injury, Klopp said: “I’m not sure if it’s the hamstring, it could be the adductor but I got punished. I turned around for the celebration because the fourth official got nothing wrong the whole time. I didn’t say anything bad, I gave a look which is bad enough. The hamstring or whatever the muscle [is] gave up in that moment. That’s fair.” Despite his injury, Klopp still went to celebrate in front of the Kop afterwards as the Reds overtook Spurs to go fifth in the table.
Klopp’s disagreement with Tierney appears to date back several years. In 2020 Tierney reportedly told Klopp to “get over it” after the referee admitted he had missed a foul on Georginio Wijnaldum in a game against Aston Villa. A year later Klopp approached Tierney and said “I have no problem with any referees, only you”, after Tottenham’s Harry Kane escaped a red card before Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson did see red in a 2-2 draw. In January this year after a loss to Brentford, Klopp said he had approached the officials – including Tierney – to discuss decisions made during the game. Earlier this month, Tierney booked Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson after an incident involving assistant referee Constantine Hatzidakis.
Klopp was not the only manager furious with the officials at Anfield, with Spurs interim boss Ryan Mason also livid. Match-winner Jota was fortunate to only be booked for a high boot that cut Oliver Skipp’s face in the 81st minute and Mason called for answers. However, Klopp was not sympathetic to Mason’s views despite his own criticism of the referee, saying: “Wanting Diogo Jota off the pitch, worry about other stuff.” Shearer told Match of the Day: “That is endangering an opponent and Jota was lucky not to get a red card.”
The chaotic match encapsulated the vulnerabilities that leave both teams outside the Champions League places. Liverpool climbed above Spurs into fifth with their win, but are seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester United having played a game more. When asked about finishing in the top four, Klopp said: “We have to win football games to qualify for Europe at all.” For the second Sunday in a row some Spurs fans were heading back from the north of England to north London not long after kick-off. Last weekend they trailed Newcastle 5-0 within 21 minutes – with fans leaving at various stages during that time – and this time some supporters were seen leaving Anfield after just 15 minutes following goals from Curtis Jones, Diaz and Mohamed Salah. However, they missed a commendable fightback from Spurs as Harry Kane and Son Heung-min gave them hope before Richarlison’s first Premier League goal for the club looked to have secured a point in injury time, with the former Everton forward booked for removing his shirt in celebration. Moments later Jota’s last-gasp strike ensured Tottenham’s comeback was in vain.
Tottenham’s all-time top scorer Kane said: “The table doesn’t lie, where we are doesn’t lie. We’ve got some fantastic players and moments but as a team we aren’t playing good enough collectively. We need to show we can go through games when it isn’t going our way. We deserve to be where we are.” Graeme Souness, who played for both clubs, told Sky Sports: “You have seen Spurs and Liverpool’s season in 90 minutes, sometimes brilliant, sometimes indifferent. That is both teams summed up.”