Klopp’s mood sours further as Liverpool drops points late

Already angered by fixture timings in a congested schedule and hindered by a long injury list in his squad, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was given another reason to be unhappy following the latest contentious incident involving VAR in the English Premier League.

The champions dropped two points after conceding a goal from a penalty in the third minute of stoppage time in a 1-1 draw at Brighton on Saturday.

The spot kick was awarded following an intervention by the video assistant referee, who previously ruled out two Liverpool goals at Amex Stadium for offside — one of which couldn’t have been tighter against Mohamed Salah.

“You cannot imagine how many things are hard to take (at) the moment,” said Klopp, whose list of gripes is getting longer by the day.

Liverpool’s coach made clear his frustration by sarcastically applauding the assistant referee after Pascal Gross converted Brighton’s equalizer. He spoke to the match officials as they walked off the field after the final whistle. Klopp wasn’t finished there, continuing his complaints about broadcasters post-match regarding a schedule that has seen Liverpool forced to play on Wednesday night in the Champions League and then Saturday lunchtime in the Premier League.

“The only thing we have to do is deal with it, recover, prepare again and go,” he said.

Indeed, for a team that is back atop the league as it looks to retain the title, Liverpool is an unhappy bunch.

Salah, who recently returned to action after contracting the coronavirus, was substituted around the hour mark — just like he was on Wednesday in the 2-0 loss to Atalanta in the Champions League — and didn’t hide his unhappiness.

Klopp made it clear he was trying to protect his star attacker, who set up Liverpool’s goal scored by Diogo Jota.

“We have to be careful (with Salah),” Klopp said. “He doesn’t like that, but that’s it.”

Already missing Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez and Thiago Alcantara because of injury, Liverpool has another issue to contend with after the versatile James Milner hobbled off with a hamstring problem.

Likely adding to Liverpool’s frustration was the sight of arguably its biggest threat to the title, Manchester City, regaining its scoring touch in a 5-0 win over Burnley a few hours later to close the gap to the champions.

MAHREZ HAT TRICK

There had been concerns about City’s once-prolific attack, with the team scoring just 10 goals in its first eight games. All it needed was a visit from Burnley to get City flowing again.

Riyad Mahrez scored a hat trick while Benjamin Mendy and Ferran Torres added goals as Burnley was beaten 5-0 for a fourth straight time at Etihad Stadium. Three of those have come in the league in successive seasons.

City should be in the goals in its next three home games, too, with relegation contenders Fulham, West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle visiting in December.

It was Mahrez’s first hat trick for City, while Torres scored his first Premier League goal having already netted for the club in the Champions League and English League Cup since joining from Valencia.

EVERTON’S SLUMP

Everton’s slide after its brilliant start to the season continued with a 1-0 home loss to Leeds.

After opening with four straight victories, Carlo Ancelotti’s side has won just one of the next six games and hasn’t kept a clean sheet since the opening weekend.

Raphinha grabbed a 79th-minute winner for Leeds with a 25-meter drive, and the Brazilian winger impressed throughout in just his second start since moving from Rennes in the summer transfer window.

In an end-to-end contest at Goodison Park, Jack Harrison struck the post with a header and also had a shot cleared off the line.

FIRST VICTORY

West Bromwich Albion picked up its first victory and left Sheffield United as the only winless team in the league with a 1-0 win at The Hawthorns.

Conor Gallagher’s 13th-minute goal lifted West Brom out of the bottom three, until Monday at least.

Sheffield United squandered a string of late chances — Lys Mousset shot over the crossbar from inside the six-yard box in stoppage time — and remained in last place and on just one point after 10 games. Last season, the team was challenging for European qualification until the last few games.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80

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