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'It's a clear red' - Azpilicueta & Tuchel fume over early Mane challenge in Chelsea draw with Liverpool

3:28 AM SGT 3/1/22
Sadio Mane Liverpool 2021-22
The Blues were angered after the forward escaped an early dismissal for an elbow on the defender

Cesar Azpilicueta and Thomas Tuchel both insisted that Sadio Mane should have been handed a straight red card for his opening-minute challenge in Chelsea's 2-2 Premier League draw with Liverpool.

The Blues skipper was elbowed in the face by the Reds attacker almost immediately after the whistle went as the two jumped for a high ball, but Mane escaped with only a yellow card and subsequently netted the visitors' opener at Stamford Bridge.

Mohamed Salah doubled the lead before Mateo Kovacic and Christian Pulisic struck back to tie things up in a draw that damaged both teams' hopes of a title challenge against Manchester City.

What has been said?

"It's a clear red. I don't mind if it's five seconds into the game, it's the first action and it's a clear red," Azpilicueta told Sky Sports after the full-time whistle. "He doesn't see the ball, he just wants to lead with the elbow. I honestly don't understand it.

"It was a clear red card. We're getting these decisions against us which could change the course of the game.

"We don't see consistency even within the same game, and to me it's clear a decision like this is clear. I watched the replay, but I didn't need to. It was a clear red."

Chelsea boss Tuchel agreed with his right-back, adding: "I am not a friend of early red cards. I hate to say it because I love Mane and he is a nice guy and top player, but it is a red card.

"The elbow is in the face - it doesn't matter if you do this after 20 seconds or 20 minutes."

Henderson rubbishes foul play suggestions

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson defended his team-mate, playing down suggestions that the foul was intentional and even suggesting a booking was too harsh for the attacker.

"I was disappointed with the yellow card to be honest," the England international told Match of the Day after the game concluded. "Sadio is always going to try and win it. His eyes are always on the ball, I don't think there was intent there."

Mane makes history with booking

Though the Senegal international dodged a dismissal, his yellow card still made modern-day Premier League history with the speed at which it was earned.

With a yellow after just 15 seconds, he became the fastest-booked player in the history of the competition since records began in the 2006-07 season.

Further reading