Sadio Mane found himself at the center of a controversial red card storm in Liverpool’s draw at Chelsea on Sunday and his compatriot weighed in on the incident
Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy admitted Senegalese team-mate Sadio Mane should have been sent off in the 2-2 draw with Liverpool on Sunday – hours before flying off together on international duty.
The incident happened just six seconds into the game when Mane jumped in to meet a high pass from Jordan Henderson on kickoff.
While Mane had his eyes on the ball, the winger was on trial for catching Cesar Azpilicueta with his elbow as they argued for the ball.
Referee Anthony Taylor waved only a yellow card for the 29-year-old, although Azpilicueta left a bruised orbit the day after the collision.
The Spaniard was furious with the decision and Mane only rubbed more salt into the wound when he deftly rounded around Mendy to open the scoring.
Mohamed Salah doubled his lead before Chelsea fought back with Mateo Kovacic and Christian Pulisic as the teams split the booty at Stamford Bridge.
Blues captain Azpilicueta claimed in his post-match interview that Mane should have seen red, describing the decision as a “joke”, and was backed by his manager Thomas Tuchel.
And Mendy, who made a number of fine saves for the Blues, agreed with his Chelsea teammate that Mane deserved to be sacked.
“Sadio is my brother, my compatriot,” he told French media RMC Sport. “But he shouldn’t have stayed on the pitch after a minute.”
Mendy got the instant opportunity to discuss his thoughts with Mane as they left for international service right after the game at Stamford Bridge.
The pair have been included in Senegal’s 27-man squad for the Africa Cup of Nations, which starts on January 9 and is expected to keep them out of the Premier League for up to five games.
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Mendy uploaded an image to his official Instagram account showing the couple side-by-side in a private jet as they traveled to Cameroon.
But the conversation might soon become more awkward if Mane finds out what the Blues stopper had to say about the incident.
The Premier League clarified that the decision was taken by VAR not to expel Mane as it was ‘reckless’, but not classified as violent conduct, an offense which warrants a direct red card.
Still, Chelsea were unhappy that the Reds striker was not given a red card, which, if given, would have been the fastest one-game red card in Premier League history.
Azpilicueta told Sky Sports after the game: “It’s a bright red. I don’t mind if it’s five seconds into the game, it’s the first action and it’s a bright red.
“He doesn’t see the ball, he just wants to lead with the elbow. Honestly, I don’t understand that.”
German boss Tuchel agreed, adding: “I’m not a friend of early red cards. I hate to say it because I love Mane and he’s a nice guy and a top player, but he’s a Red card.”
Chelsea remain one point ahead of Liverpool in second after the draw, but Jurgen Klopp’s side have a game in hand as they try to close the 11-point gap with leaders Manchester City.