Liverpool defender Andrew Robertson described Sergio Ramos’ gamesmanship as “quite clever” after the Real Madrid captain’s involvement in Mohamed Salah’s injury.
Ramos was seen to hang on to the Egypt international as the pair fell to the floor in what some viewed a calculated first-half challenge which resulted in the 44-goal Reds forward being forced off with shoulder ligament damage.
It was the turning point in the game as Real’s confidence grew as Liverpool’s waned on the way to a 3-1 defeat.
It was not the only incident involving Ramos as he also appeared to catch keeper Loris Karius in the face at a corner and his theatrics contributed to Sadio Mane’s second-half booking.
Scotland international Robertson did not go so far as to apportion blame, but said: “I think it is just how he [Salah] has landed but Ramos is quite clever, isn’t he?
“We are clutching at straws if we are saying that. It’s unfortunate. It just disrupted our rhythm a wee bit.
“He [Salah] has done unbelievable this season and for it to end that way for him was devastating. I hope he goes to the World Cup because a nation is a relying on him. Hopefully he’ll come back bigger and stronger.”
Salah said last night that he is “confident” he will be fit enough to represent Egypt at this summer’s World Cup finals, which start in just under three weeks.
“It was a very tough night, but I’m a fighter,” the 25-year-old posted on Twitter. “Despite the odds, I’m confident that I’ll be in Russia to make you all proud. Your love and support will give me the strength I need.”
Ramos himself also took to social media to wish Salah a speedy recovery. “Sometimes football shows you its good side and others the bad. Above all we are fellow pros. Get well soon, Salah. The future awaits you.”
The match was goalless when Salah was replaced by Adam Lallana, although Jurgen Klopp’s side were in the ascendancy.
Liverpool’s players struggled to adjust and Real Madrid took advantage, eventually running out winners partly thanks to two errors by Karius and a stunning overhead kick by Wales international Gareth Bale.
Reds midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum admitted the injury to Salah so early in the contest affected their performance.
“I think it was a big blow for us, it seemed like a big blow for us the way we reacted after his injury,” said Wijnaldum.
“I think when he was on the pitch we did it well for 25 minutes but [after the injury] there was less than before. Those things happen and we had to deal with it but it was difficult.”
Asked what Klopp said at half-time, the Dutch international added: “He said that it looked like we were devastated about Mo but we had to let it go and change because it could not change.
“Sometimes those things happen in football. It is hugely frustrating but we can’t change it.”