Referee Stuart Attwell told Fulham player it “wasn’t a penalty” for Liverpool

Liverpool beat Fulham thanks to Mo Salah‘s first-half spot kick, and it has since emerged the referee told a Fulham player ‘it wasn’t a penalty’.

When Darwin Nunez pinched the ball from Issa Diop in the Fulham penalty area, the Fulham centre-back stuck his leg out and made contact with the Uruguayan.

This prompted the referee, Stuart Attwell, to award a penalty at the Anfield Road end.

Fulham‘s players claimed, though, that Nunez was already going to ground, and they continued their protestations after the final whistle.

Speaking to Fulham’s official website, midfielder Tom Cairney said: “The ref made a decision, I thought he’d seen contact. I asked him on the pitch, ‘please just make sure they check it.’

“He said they checked it, but he said second half to one of our players that it wasn’t a penalty, so it’s frustrating because it goes to other people [VAR] to make the correct decision.”

Cairney added that it was a “kick in the you-know-whats” and described his version of events.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, May 3, 2023: Fulham's goalkeeper Bernd Leno is beaten as Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scores the opening goal from a penalty kick during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Fulham FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Issa Diop hasn’t touched him, Nunez has taken another step and then gone over, and then you lose to something like that at Anfield which is frustrating when we’re trying to climb as high as we can,” the 32-year-old recalled.

After the game, manager Marco Silva alluded that the player Attwell spoke to in the second half was Diop, who conceded the foul leading to the penalty.

The Cottagers’ boss said: “I can tell you that Issa [Diop] spoke with the referee during the second half and I know what the referee said to Issa as well.”

Like Cairney, Silva was unhappy with the VAR’s decision not to intervene.

“To give a penalty like that, and after the VAR didn’t take that penalty, we cannot understand. It is difficult, really, to understand,” said the Portuguese.

“I know what I’m going to [hear] the next few days, that it was a harsh decision.

“When Darwin touched the ball, he started to dive himself and touch the left leg into Issa.

“They are going to say that is harsh but the referee gave it and after the VAR cannot take it.

“It’s always the same conversation. It’s almost impossible for us to understand that decision.”

The penalty was just the fourth Liverpool have received in the Premier League this season, with the first coming on March 11, over six months into the campaign.

Salah has scored his last two down the middle, having missed his previous two from the spot.