‘If you look…’ – Ex-Liverpool duo were left raging over first-half moment v Atalanta tonight

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Liverpool bowed out of Europe with a whimper as their 1-0 win away to Atalanta tonight wasn’t enough to undo the damage of last week’s 0-3 defeat at Anfield.

However, some Reds fans may be left wondering if things might’ve worked out differently had the referee taken a different view of one moment in the first half at the Gewiss Stadium.

Shortly before half-time, Isak Hien was booked for handball as he cut out what could’ve been a gilt-edged chance for Luis Diaz, who argued that the Nerazzurri defender ought to have been sent off for denying what he felt was a clear goalscoring opportunity.

Speaking on punditry duty for TNT Sports, ex-LFC striker Peter Crouch raged (via Liverpool Echo): “I was screaming for a red card straight away. You can see he leans into the ball.

“There was a definite move of the arm, and I think Diaz is going in here. I think he takes the touch across him. I think that should be a red card. If you look here, he leans right into it and I don’t think the player is covering behind him.”

Fellow pundit and former Liverpool player Gary McAllister shared the Englishman’s indignation, saying: “I think it is denying a goal-scoring opportunity. If it gets to Diaz without the handball, I think his first touch is taking it towards the middle of the goal and away from the covering centre-back. You could argue that it should be a red.”

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Referee François Letexier would’ve been within his rights to have sent Hien for an early bath, as the Atalanta defender quite deliberately handled the ball and prevented Diaz from being put through clean on goal.

Had the Sweden international been shown a red card, or had the Liverpool attacker got to the ball and gone on to double his team’s lead on the night, the second half could’ve had a very different feel to it. Imagine if the home side were trying to hang on with 10 men, or the Reds needed only one goal after the interval.

That incident has left a sense of ‘what if’ over our Europa League exit, but the harsh truth is that we simply didn’t do enough over the two games to deserve anything other than quarter-final elimination, having only played well during the first half tonight and been downright putrid at Anfield a week ago.

We could argue all night that Hien should’ve been sent off, but LFC still had 45-50 minutes to find two more goals and frankly didn’t look like scoring even one.

Europe is done – let’s make sure we don’t have any regrets over the final six matches of our Premier League campaign between now and 19 May.

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