Bolton Wanderers manager Neil Lennon was left furious by referee Roger East’s performance as two late Liverpool goals sent them crashing out of the FA Cup fourth round.
East awarded Bolton a contentious penalty – scored by Eidur Gudjohnsen after Martin Skrtel’s challenge on Zach Clough – but also sent off Neil Danns for two yellow cards with the Championship side still ahead.
“I thought he was rubbish,” said Lennon. “I thought he spoiled what was a very good game.”
He added: “The first booking Neil Danns gets isn’t a booking. He doesn’t make contact and it’s his first challenge of the game. I thought there were other things that went on in the game that went Liverpool’s way.
“I understand the sending-off and I told Neil at half-time he had to be careful but the first one wasn’t a yellow card. I don’t think the referee had a choice with the second yellow card.”
Lennon also said he was “not convinced that our penalty was a penalty either”.
Raheem Sterling equalised for Liverpool with four minutes left and Philippe Coutinho scored the winner in stoppage time to set up a fifth-round tie at Crystal Palace.
Lennon said: “The sending-off changed the game because I thought at 1-0, and with 11 men, we were OK. We were comfortable. I didn’t feel we were being pegged in. I didn’t feel we were under immense pressure but then the pressure came with being a man down against a quality side.
“The it was a case of getting caught ball watching with four minutes left and against a team as good as Liverpool you can’t afford to do that.”
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers praised Coutinho after the game.
“You’d pay money to watch that kid and watch how he plays football. He is a great role model for many technical players who are technically good and maybe not as big in stature,” he said.
“But he will be world class in the next couple of years. He’s a wonderful player who has just signed a new contract and he’s really committed to this club.
“The result was justice. At 1-0 I expected us to win. I think the confidence in the team is very high. We created some chances and didn’t quite take them and went a goal down to what was never a penalty. After that we kept our composure and quality. We scored two but could have had many, many more.
“We have got great belief at the moment and you can’t question their character.”