Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Rodgers: Card should have been red

Brendan Rodgers felt Kevin Mirallas, pictured celebrating Everton's first goal, should have been sent off

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers accused Everton forward Kevin Mirallas of a "naughty" potentially career-ending tackle on Luis Suarez which deserved a red card.

The Belgium international, who had a hand in all Everton's goals in the 3-3 Merseyside derby draw, escaped with a booking for his knee-high challenge.

Rodgers, who also made a veiled criticism of England for playing unfit striker Daniel Sturridge for 90 minutes in the midweek friendly against Germany, felt Mirallas was lucky not to be sent off.

"I thought Mirallas should have been sent off. It would've been interesting if Luis made the challenge," said Rodgers.

"I have seen Kevin for a few years and he looks a real honest player but if you look at it in every way, real time and slow motion, it is a bad challenge.

"He caught him on the back of his knee and that can end your career.

"It was awful jumping in like that and it took Luis 10 or 15 minutes to try to run it off and he (Mirallas) had another one by the (far) touchline where he's jumped up and come down on the back of Luis.

"He (Suarez) is a player who can look after himself on the pitch, he is a strong player, but I just think it was a bad challenge.

"It wouldn't matter if it was on Luis or someone else it was a naughty challenge.

"You don't want to see people getting sent off but if they should be than that's what should happen."

Sturridge came off the bench to salvage a point with an 89th-minute header after two goals from Romelu Lukaku had turned around Liverpool's 2-1 advantage with Philippe Coutinho and Suarez scoring either side of Mirallas.

Rodgers decided the striker, who has been playing with a dead leg, was not fit to start after being over-played at Wembley.

"He had obviously not trained and he played 90 minutes (against Germany) and anyone who saw the game could tell he was not fit," added the Reds boss.

"Because he played 90 minutes he couldn't train because he has to recover.

"His first action on the field was Friday and assessing him on that he was nowhere near ready to start.

"I said to him before the game he has been a match-winner for us since he came in but he may have to do it from the bench.

"Thankfully he came in and got a great header."

Everton manager Roberto Martinez, in his first Merseyside derby, did not feel Mirallas deserved to be sent off but accepted Rodgers' viewpoint.

"I can see why. I have seen the replay and obviously Kevin goes for the ball with a typical striker's tackle and closes his eyes when he gets to the incident and his right leg catches Suarez," he said.

"I don't think it is a red card because it is not a malicious incident, he tries to win the ball but gets there late.

"I think a yellow card, bearing in mind the emotions you bring into a derby, was the right decision.

"But I can see why, if that had been against my team, I would've been thinking it would have been a red card.

"I think the referee was very right to give it as a yellow card. He allowed the whole game to be played at a very good tempo and was outstanding playing the advantage.

"I was a little bit disappointed with Steven Gerrard's elbow on Gareth Barry. It did not contact his face but it was not a natural position to have an elbow and that could have been a nasty incident."

Martinez became a father for the first time on the eve of the game after his wife gave birth to a daughter but insisted it did not affect his focus on the game.

"That comes through the family. My dad missed both mine and my sister's births because he was involved in football," he said.

"I am delighted. My wife is in a great condition. I was at the birth but I did very little."

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