Jurgen Klopp has defended Sadio Mane after Pep Guardiola made headlines by openly accusing the forward of diving.
The Senegalese went down theatrically under a challenge from Frederic Guilbert in the first half, picking up a yellow card for simulation. However, he and Liverpool left Birmingham with all the right headlines after netting a 94th-minute winner to maintain his side's six-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.
Manchester City themselves need a late turnaround to avoid a shock home defeat to Southampton, with Kyle Walker netting four minutes from time to keep the Citizens' within an arm's reach of Liverpool ahead of their crunch Anfield clash next week.
Speaking after the match, the Man City boss commented on the Reds' ability to keep winning, but also took time to aim a jibe at Mane for the incident at Villa Park.
"It has happened many times, what Liverpool have done, in the last few years, it's because (Mane) is a special talent," Guardiola said on the BBC's Match of the Day. "Sometimes he's diving, sometimes he has this talent to score incredible goals in the last minute. He's a talent."
In what could be perceived as mind games ahead of their Premier League encounter, Klopp shrugged off the claims about his star forward, instead insisting the decision to book the 27-year-old was harsh.
"He got the yellow card and when you see it back it was not diving, there was contact but it is a decision we have to accept it," Klopp said, as quoted by Metro.
Presumably Guardiola will be asked about that in the next press conference (or two) but I doubt he’ll double down on it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he apologised. Either way, a week of focusing on diving it is...— Sam Lee (@SamLee) November 2, 2019
In regards to the match itself, the German was unhappy with some elements of his side's display but was content with the manner in which his side snatched the victory when a draw looked the likely result.
"I didn’t like the body language. We made it difficult for ourselves," Klopp added. "We started playing football well but not exactly how we should — Aston Villa were ready for a proper fight, a battle and to defend with all you have. It is lucky when you score these goals but if one team deserved to win it, it was us."