By Keith Hackett

4th Oct, 2021 | 1:54pm

Ex-Premier League referee: This may be real reason Milner avoided red card in Liverpool thriller v Man City

James Milner may have avoided a red card for Liverpool in their thrilling 2-2 draw against Man City because Paul Tierney may have thought Jordan Henderson fouled Bernardo Silva.

That is the view of ex-Premier League and FIFA referee Keith Hackett, speaking exclusively to Football Insider about the controversy that overshadowed Sunday’s Premier League game.

Milner was deployed at right-back with Trent Alexander-Arnold injured and picked up a yellow card in the first half as he struggled to deal with the electric Phil Foden.

He walked a tightrope for the rest of the match and many thought he should have been shown a second yellow for a foul on Bernardo.

The City attacker was tight to the touchline as both Henderson and Milner tried to stop him.

It was Milner who tripped him up but Hackett has suggested Tierney was not 100 per cent sure who committed the offence and therefore was reluctant to show the red card.

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VAR did not intervene as it has no authority on second yellow card offences.

“There was no question in my mind that Paul Tierney contributed positively to an outstanding Premier League game,” Hackett told Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley.

“Probably one of the best games I’ve seen in the Premier League, hugely entertaining. The goal from [Mo] Salah was just unbelievable.

“Like all referees, you get criticism in relation to the big decisions. The big decision on Milner was clearly a yellow card offence, no question. In not applying a yellow card and Liverpool going up the other end to score, that compounded the whole thing. That’s what upset Pep Guardiola. 

“He’s got it wrong. We say to referees don’t guess. In it, I wonder whether he saw Henderson and Milner together and with that he didn’t actually get the correct outcome.

“I want to balance this, Tierney is in top form, he’s a top-class referee. His integrity cannot be questioned.

“He’s in a level of doubt about the incident. He cannot re-run it through his mind. That level of doubt is sufficient to say ‘I’m not going to issue a yellow and then red card’.

“He knows if he did issue a red card and got it wrong then the outcome is even more wrong in that sense.”

In other news, Liverpool are plotting a raid to sign a Champions League forward who tormented Man United after a transfer mission.