Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists he is baffled by the criticism directed at Mohamed Salah for the way he won a penalty against West Ham.
The Egyptian forward fell to the ground under a tackle from Arthur Masuaku shortly before half-time of Saturday’s 2-1 win for the Reds, with Hammers boss David Moyes accusing Salah of ‘diving’ despite the defender making contact.
Salah stepped up to take the penalty to draw Liverpool level on the night, and substitute Diogo Jota struck a late winner to extend Liverpool’s unbeaten home league run to a record-equalling 63 matches.
The 28-year-old has since been heavily criticised by several pundits, including talkSPORT’s very own Tony Cascarino.
Writing in his column for The Times, Liverpool supporter Cascarino said he ‘hated to see Mohamed Salah dive’ to win his penalty, and branded the Egyptian’s antics as ‘an insult to Nobby Stiles and the game he loved’, the day after the 1966 England legend’s death.
And Cascarino reiterated those beliefs on Monday’s talkSPORT Breakfast, while Danny Murphy described it as ‘cheating’.
“I have a real problem that officials do not see forwards instigating fouls,” said Cascarino. “I do not get how referees cannot see how forwards instigate the contact – it’s a big problem.
“Mo Salah did it, it was minimal contact and he went down. I’m a Liverpool fan but I’m thinking, how can that be a penalty?!
”If this game continues, and the way penalties are going, in 2030 if football is going to continue in this vein, I’m not going to be watching it, I’m really not. That’s how I feel, and I think there are fans who feel the same way.
“We’ve lost some great footballers this year who played in different eras, and I don’t want to sound like a dinosaur – I don’t want to be Cascasaurus – but if we keep going down this road of players looking for contact and penalties are still being given, the game is in trouble!”
Klopp, however, leapt to his player’s defence when speaking to the media ahead of Liverpool’s Champions League clash against Atalanta – which is LIVE on talkSPORT.
“It was a foul. It was for pretty much everyone who saw it,” the German talkSPORT.
“Believe it or not I spoke to Mo about how he feels. He has exactly three proper knocks on his foot and one of them is from the penalty situation. That’s how it is.
“We don’t talk that long about penalties we don’t get in other games.
“It’s two or three days after that and there was clear contact, so what can I say? No, I don’t understand the criticism.”
Meanwhile, Klopp also took time to lavish praise on Liverpool’s upcoming opponents, whom he likened to Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds.
On Atalanta, he added: “Top players and top recruitment. Very good players and well-organised, and they play a system with 100 per cent conviction.
“They use the skills of individuals in incredibly smart ways.
“This is the biggest challenge we have in the Champions League so far. Atalanta is very difficult to play against.
“They are slightly similar to Leeds in their approach. It will be a tough one.”