Liverpool’s manager, Jürgen Klopp, said his Colombian forward Luis Díaz was “really happy” after hearing his kidnapped father had been released a few hours before the club’s Europa League tie in Toulouse.
Luis Díaz Sr was taken along with his wife, Cilenis Marulanda, on 28 October in their home town of Barrancas in Colombia’s northern La Guajira state, although Díaz’s mother was freed hours later.
After a long wait and days of negotiation with the guerilla group the National Liberation Army, Díaz’s father was released on Thursday.
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“It looks like Lucho [Díaz] is really happy, [giving] thumbs up all the time,” Klopp told TNT Sports before Thursday night’s game. “It looks very, very good. Timing-wise it couldn’t have been better.” The manger was speaking before his side slip to a controversial 3-2 defeat in southern France.
A statement from Liverpool read: “We are delighted by the news of Luis Díaz’s father’s safe return and we thank all those involved in securing his release.”
Díaz started the game for Liverpool, who had won their opening three Group E games and needed a win to qualify for the knockout stages. However, they found themselves 2-0 and 3-1 behind to the French side before Diogo Jota’s goal set up a grandstand finish in which the young defender Jarell Quansah was denied what looked a valid equaliser by a lengthy and confusing VAR intervention.
The 20-year-old Quansah poked home in the seventh additional minute only for the VAR to alert the referee, Georgi Kabakov, to a potential handball against Alexis Mac Allister in the buildup and the Bulgarian official contentiously chalked the goal off after viewing the incident on the pitchside monitor.
“It looked like a normal goal, I didn’t see a handball,” said Klopp. “But we deserved to lose.”