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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 4 March 2021

Jordan Henderson calls for VAR to be scrapped after late penalty denies Liverpool win at Brighton

Reds captain left frustrated after referee awards Seagulls controversial spot kick after pitch-side monitor review in 1-1 draw on south coast

A stoppage time penalty from Pascal Gross left Liverpool frustrated as they were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw at Brighton on Saturday.

Gross drilled home his spot kick after a pitch-side monitor review saw Andy Robertson punished for kicking the foot of Danny Welbeck. Liverpool had earlier seen two goals ruled out by VAR.

A goal from Diogo Jota looked to have earned the Reds three points until Gross' late leveller but the defending champions still moved a point clear at the top of the table with 21 points from 10 games while Tottenham – who play at Chelsea on Sunday – have 20 points from nine.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson made his feelings clear after the match when asked about whether he would like VAR to be scrapped. "I would rather play without it, yeah," he said. "I don't want to speak for anybody else but in my opinion I would. I just want to play football as normal.

"It should be three points ... I’ve seen the replay. Who would be happy? It’s not a pen.

"It feels like we’re standing here every week and discussing incidents. I don’t want to get into trouble, but for me it’s not a penalty. Obviously the referees know better than us.

"Danny Welbeck said to me it wasn’t a penalty. There were four or five of them who felt it wasn’t a penalty. To overturn it, it has to be clear and obvious.

"Overall, we’ve got to be positive and take the performance out of it, because the result isn’t anything else but an error in my option. You’d rather get beat by two or three than end up like that. It feels like two points taken away from us."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who was left sarcastically applauding the officials after Gross scored, added: "We are used to our armpits being offside. If it was a toe today that is an easy decision obviously.

"The two penalties, I didn't see the first and the second we can all see. If there is contact and he decides it's enough... Usually if the players in the other team says 'naa, that's not a penalty'. But it was. So 1-1."

Klopp was also angry about the early kick-off, attacking UK broadcasters BT Sport during the post-match interview.

Aaron Connolly wasted a great chance to put Brighton ahead in the 10th minute when he was put through clear on goal by Neal Maupay but with only Alisson Becker to beat he placed his shot wide.

The home side had an even better opportunity 10 minutes later when Liverpool right-back Nico Williams brought down Connolly in the box, but Maupay put his penalty kick well wide.

Having had those two let-offs, Liverpool thought they had taken the lead when Firmino fed Salah, who burst goalwards and poked the ball past Mat Ryan. But VAR ruled the Egyptian had been in an offside position.

Klopp took Williams off at the break, bringing Jordan Henderson off the bench in a move that brought a more familiar confidence to the champions' play.

The opening goal came on the hour when Andy Robertson fed Salah, who laid off to Jota, who in turn veered across the top of the penalty area, creating space for a low shot which he squeezed into the bottom corner. It was his ninth goal of the season in all competitions.

Liverpool, who face Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday, suffered a blow when James Milner had to go off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. Klopp said that the veteran was having a scan to find out the extent of the damage.

"You cannot imagine how many things are hard to take in the moment," the German added. "The only thing we have to do is deal with it, recover, prepare again and go. Deal with it, recover, prepare again and go. I have no problem with that."

Sadio Mane had a headed effort ruled out for offside seven minutes from the end, before the late Brighton equaliser.

"It was one of those games where we had to try and stick in until the end," said Welbeck. "We knew we could create some opportunities and exploit their backline. We got a soft penalty but it's one we will take.

"In today's game with the VAR, I got there in front and nicked it around him. He kicked me and then the ball, so ... The referee went to see it on the screen and made his decision."

Updated: November 28, 2020 08:05 PM

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