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Published: 17:24 | 20/3/16

Klopp defends Lovren substitution

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he took defender Dejan Lovren off at half-time against Southampton because he felt referee Roger East had been overtaken by "emotion".

The Reds were leading Southampton 2-0 at St Mary's, thanks to goals from Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge, when Lovren was replaced at half-time by Martin Skrtel, and then capitulated in the second half to end up losing the match 3-2.

Skrtel almost immediately conceded a penalty for a poor challenge on Graziano Pelle, albeit one that was saved by Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, and then struggled to deal with the pace and threat of two-goal Saido Mane.

Klopp insists that he was forced to replace Lovren as he felt referee East would respond to the home crowd and show a second yellow card in the second half.

Asked why he replaced Lovren, the German said: “His yellow card.

“I thought at the end of the first half it looked like the ref was not completely any more free of the emotion in the stadium. Maybe this situation was not okay.

“Okay, maybe it was a penalty – I don’t know. I thought we had to change this because it was clear that they will play a lot of long balls to Pelle and it’s not easy for a centre-half to challenge for these without a yellow card, especially when the ref changed a bit the mood."

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman says he felt his side deserved the victory after a barnstorming second-half performance, with Mane hitting the winner four minutes from the end of normal time after Pelle had levelled up matters following Mane's 64th minute strike.

"We needed to show the belief and the spirit in coming back into the game and to make it 2-1, because then it would be a really open game. That happened," the Dutchman said.

"We showed great spirit. A great second half. The substitutes, Sadio and Victor [Wanyama], had a big impact in the game in the second half.

"It was well deserved, a great game. This is what football is about. I'm proud of the team and the fans. It's easy to tell everybody because you get the full three points, but even with the 2-2 or the 2-1, how we came back in the game was amazing.

"At 2-0 down against Liverpool, they let us live, the reaction of the players and winning the game makes it special. I'm very proud of the team."

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