Arsene Wenger has accused Liverpool midfielder Fabinho of “cheating” in order to get Alexis Sanchez sent off in Tuesday’s Champions League tie with Inter.
Liverpool were beaten 1-0 by the Italian champions in the second leg at Anfield but still advanced to the quarter-finals by virtue of a 2-1 aggregate victory.
Sanchez’s dismissal came at a pivotal moment in the tie, the Chile international being shown a second yellow two minutes after Lautaro Martinez had struck to give Inter hope.
The former Arsenal and Manchester United player clearly got some of the ball but followed through on Fabinho, who got back to his feet once the red card had been issued.
It was the first red card Sanchez has received in his 64 games in the Champions League, and Wenger suggested Fabinho more than played his part in the referee’s decision.
“It was borderline between cheating and being clever,” Wenger, who worked with Sanchez at Arsenal between 2014 and 2018, told beIN SPORTS.
“He was cheating, he made more of it. Maybe he had pain, he was touched by Sanchez. You cannot say it was completely fake. Maybe he could have got up quicker.
“It’s one of those fouls – when it’s one of your plays you say it’s clever; when you’re completely neutral like we’re supposed to be you can say he could have made less of it.
“He didn’t want to hurt him, he played the ball first.”
Sanchez is the first Inter player to be given his marching orders in the knockout stages of the Champions League since Cristian Chivu against Schalke in April 2011.
The 33-year-old, who was credited with the assist for Martinez’s strike, had earlier been cautioned for a lunge on Thiago Alcantara.
And Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp felt that challenge alone late in the first half was worthy of a straight red card for Sanchez.
“I think he was lucky he hadn’t got a red card in the first half, going in so high on Thiago onto his knee,” Klopp said at his post-match news conference.
“Passion is good, absolutely good, but if it leads to these kind of things then it doesn’t help.”
On the red card incident, Klopp added: “If you can win the ball only [then it is acceptable] but if you endanger an opponent when you do it, then you don’t win the ball.
“If Fabinho goes in with the same intention, with the leg out, then both players get injured.”
Despite victory on the night, Inter have now been eliminated from each of their last three Champions League knockout ties since beating Bayern Munich in the 2010-11 last 16.Follow us on Social Media