Belfast Telegraph

Poll: Was Liverpool's Benteke fouled or did he dive?

Crystal Palace 1-2 Liverpool

By Steven Tongue

Alan Pardew last night accused Christian Benteke of diving after the Belgian striker won - and then scored - the stoppage-time penalty that secured 10-man Liverpool a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

The Palace manager moaned: "I saw the referee, he wasn't giving it. That touch doesn't warrant the dive he makes - and it's the dive that makes the linesman's mind up."

Benteke went to ground, with the ball going out of play, after minimal contact with Palace's Damien Delaney in the sixth minute of second-half stoppage time.

After the referee, Andre Marriner, hesitated when substitute Benteke fell, linesman Scott Ledger waved for a penalty, and effectively sealed Liverpool's recovery from a goal and a man down to strengthen their pursuit of a top-four finish and extend Palace's winless run to 12 Premier League games.

Pardew added: "It's a worrying issue in the game. I'm really frustrated with that. You try to be fair, to say the right thing to your players and send out the right message. If that touch warrants a collapse like that, then wow, we really need to say, 'Come on'.

"I've heard Jamie Carragher saying there was contact and he was within his rights to go down. Jamie Carragher is saying that? He's an ex-pro.

"Everyone's seen the penalty. If you're the referee and see the centre-half pulling out of the challenge, you don't give the penalty. And I don't think he did. The linesman assumes that little touch is a penalty. (Benteke) makes the most of it. If you think that touch affects the fall and the way he lands, then you really need to be consulted."

Benteke himself said: "I think he touched me, otherwise I wouldn't go down. The referee's given a penalty so he thinks it's the right decision. You have to be ready when the manager needs you. This is part of football. I tried to do my best so we can be happy."

The striker was backed up by his manager, Jurgen Klopp, who said: "If you run and you get a touch, you fall down. In my opinion, there was more than enough of a touch."

Palace, who remain 15th in the table, are the only team yet to win in the Premier League in 2016 but looked set to do so after Joe Ledley's powerful 48th-minute finish had given them the lead and a second yellow card resulted in James Milner's sending-off. Their goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, surprisingly selected ahead of Julian Speroni in the absence of the injured Wayne Hennessey, slipped during a routine clearance to gift a goal to Roberto Firmino.

As well as making clear his frustration with the officials, Pardew admitted to being annoyed with his players for their failings after taking the lead.

"Up to that period we were great, as good as we've been," he said. "I'm frustrated with the referee and with us at how we didn't push on, and with the substitutes who should have done better, and myself. There's nothing we can do about it, but we can put right that last 15 minutes. We never pushed on in that period. That was the biggest downside of the game."

Klopp, however, praised the "passion" of his team, adding: "We did well. We needed a bit of luck. We deserved the luck at 1-1."

Belfast Telegraph


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