Sadio Mane was fortunate to escape punishment after tangling with Everton’s Mason Holgate as Liverpool ran out 2-0 winners in a fiery Merseyside derby clash at Anfield
Jurgen Klopp’s side hosted their bitter rivals needing a result to keep the pressure on Manchester City in the Premier League title race, while the Toffees are scrapping for survival at the foot of the table. Frank Lampard’s side actually started the game in the relegation zone after Burnley grabbed a vital 1-0 win over Wolves earlier in the day.
And with so much at stake, it was no surprise to see tempers boil over at Anfield on the stroke of half time. But as a flurry of bodies were sucked into an overdramatic pushing match, Mane found himself right in the thick of the drama with Holgate.
The Reds striker made an attempt to poke the Everton star in the eye with his finger, but the incident was not picked up by referee Stuart Attwell or VAR despite complaints from Holgate.
Mane’s lucky escape comes just days after Lampard appeared to suggest that Liverpool players were more to get away with incidents like that at Anfield. His comments came after Naby Keita was lucky to escape punishment for a wild tackle in the Reds’ emphatic midweek win over Manchester United.
Lampard said prior to Sunday’s clash: “We expect players to be physical, but on the right side of the law. I hope the referee sees that. At Goodison we’ve had yellow cards become red cards. Maybe at Anfield it doesn’t always work that way… we saw in the last game where a red card situation became a yellow card.”
Anthony Gordon had earlier sparked another melee when he was cautioned for diving in the penalty area. The Toffees starlet took a tumble during a clash with Keita, but replays showed that the Reds midfielder had pulled out of the challenge.
Andy Robertson eventually broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute after the Scottish full-back ghosted in at the back post to nod home Mohamed Salah’s teasing delivery from the right-hand side. Divock Origi wrapped up the points in the 85th minute with a towering header after the super-sub was introduced from the bench.
The result ensures Liverpool remain just a solitary point behind Manchester City as they chase an unprecedented quadruple. The Reds – who won the Carabao Cup earlier this season – booked their spot in next month’s FA Cup final and are set to lock horns with Villarreal in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final next week.