MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 9, 2017: Liverpool's Sadio Mane protests before referee Jonathan Moss shows him a red card and sends him off during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

AS far as sucker punches go, that’s up there.

Liverpool were absolutely undressed by Manchester City in a manner that demands an immediate response.

But fuck the result.

Having been clearly the better side for most of the opening period the game was taken away from Liverpool in the space of 12 minutes.

With City firmly on the back foot, The Reds only had themselves to blame for not already having an ample cushion to absorb the softest of City goals.

The squad and ability that Pep Guardiola has at his disposal can pick apart any side in Europe, but having managed to contain and dominate for the most part Liverpool conspired, once again, to gift the easiest of goals.

There were question marks as to why Ragnar Klavan started the game in place of Dejan Lovren, which Jürgen Klopp put down to international break fatigue, but the gap he allowed to open up behind him to allow Sergio Aguero in was so great he should have scored twice.

That Klavan is our third-choice centre half in the first place is entirely different piece all together, and a legitimate question that needs answering.

But OK, no big deal.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 9, 2017: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp reacts during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

But with Mark “Clattsy” Clattenburg gone, the Premier League needs a new enforcer, a preening gobshite desperate for the limelight.

Cometh the fixture, cometh the gobshite.

With bingo wings that’d shame your nan, the 46-year-old headmaster couldn’t wait to flourish his newly-issued, fluo-orange card, giving Sadio Mane his marching orders for contesting a 50-50 challenge with Ederson’s face on the edge of the Man City area.

With the game effectively over as a contest, City then stretched their advantage, with Liverpool willing participants, collapsing as pathetically as the nation’s cricket team when things aren’t going for them.

The incident between Mane and Ederson is yet another example of an official refereeing an occasion instead of an incident and, as a result, spoiled what was warming up to be a cracker of a fixture.

What, exactly, was Mane supposed to do? Not contest a bouncing ball with a ‘keeper who has taken evasive action and put himself in danger?

Whether or not the referee was swayed by Man City’s swarming of the incident is unclear, but given the severity of the injury was such that Ederson saw out the end of the game in a stadium executive box and not, surprisingly given their reaction, intensive care, has soothed their concern.

Is there also not an argument, considering the length of time that Ederson was receiving treatment on the pitch and with play stopped, for the referee to take stock and have a quiet word with someone who might have (quietly) seen a video replay instead of rushing to his arse bin and get his name in the paper?

The end result was an absolute embarrassment, but it doesn’t sting half as much as if we’d been on the end of a three-goal defeat with 11 men on the pitch because the game ceased to be a contest in the 37th minute.

With Champions League football proper, and hopefully a decent referee, back at Anfield this week what better way to dust yourself off?

READ: Manchester City 5 Liverpool 0: The Final Whistle

READ: Manchester City 5 Liverpool 0: Match Ratings

READ: Manchester City 5 Liverpool 0: Match Review

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