Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp felt his side were denied a clear penalty in Monday’s Premier League defeat at Southampton and said other teams would have been awarded one.
As the Reds searched for an equaliser in the second half, Georginio Wijnaldum had a shot blocked by the hand of Jack Stephens, while forward Sadio Mane went down under a challenge from Kyle Walker-Peters.
Danny Ings’ second-minute goal ended up being enough to earn the Saints all three points, and leaders Liverpool can now be leapfrogged by both second-placed Manchester United and Manchester City, who are fifth, if they win their games in hand.
“[The handball] looked like a clear penalty,” Klopp said. “I turned to the fourth official, he said: ‘We checked already, no penalty.’
“What [referee] Andre Marriner did with Sadio Mane tonight, I’m not sure that’s OK, to be honest.”
Klopp added: “I hear now that Manchester United had more penalties in two years than I had in five and a half years. I’ve no idea if that’s my fault, or how that can happen.
“But it’s no excuse for the performance. We cannot change it, we have to respect the decisions. But we can change our performance. That’s our focus now.”
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Klopp was frustrated by his side’s lack of cutting edge after former Reds striker Ings’ early goal – a fine lob over keeper Alisson following Trent Alexander-Arnold’s failure to deal with a James Ward-Prowse free-kick.
And the manager felt that at least one of his side’s penalty shouts should have been given.
The German told Sky Sports: “The best situations we had were with Sadio having the ball at his feet.
“For anyone to say he is a diver is the biggest joke in the world. He tries to stay on his feet. He had two situations where other teams would get a penalty for it.
“The handball – I don’t know who will explain that to me. In these situations we were unfortunate.”
Liverpool face a resurgent Manchester United in their next league match on Sunday, 17 January. United will be ahead of the Anfield side by then if they are not beaten at Burnley on 12 January.
Where have the goals gone?
Liverpool have now failed to score in 258 minutes of league action – and Klopp’s side managed just one tame shot on target at St Mary’s.
The reigning champions have netted with one of 41 efforts against West Brom, Newcastle and Southampton.
“These are our problems,” Klopp said. “Yes, we are worried about that, but football problems you solve with football and that’s what we are working on.
“We know about the situation. We are not silly and we have to show a reaction – 100%.”
‘I’m not crying – it’s the wind!’
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl was hugely emotional at the final whistle, sinking to his knees on the sideline as he celebrated three points which lifted his team back into the top six.
The Austrian has transformed the club since arriving two years ago and was proud of his side’s “perfect” night.
“There were tears in my eyes – but because of the wind!” he told BBC Sport.
“When you see our guys fighting with everything they have it makes me really proud. You need to have the perfect game against Liverpool and I think we did have that.
“It was an intense game; my voice is nearly gone. The guys are tired, you have to be to win against such a team. The guys believed in what they were doing.
“In the 92nd minute I thought: ‘OK, it can be something for us.’ It’s a perfect evening.”