London - Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers complained that opposition midfielder Cesc Fabregas "should have been sent off" for an ugly challenge on Raheem Sterling during his side's 1-1 draw at Chelsea.
There was less than a minute on the clock at Stamford Bridge on Sunday when Fabregas caught Sterling on the ankle with a high, sliding challenge, for which he was booked by referee Andre Marriner.
The final score, after John Terry's early header was cancelled out by Steven Gerrard's headed goal, all but extinguished Liverpool's Champions League hopes.
But Rodgers felt the game might have panned out differently had Fabregas -- who set up Terry's opener -- been sent for an early bath.
"Fabregas should have been sent off -- out of control, diving, stretching," said the Northern Irishman, whose side trail fourth-place Manchester United by six points with two games to play.
"It was early in the game, but it doesn't matter. It was a bad challenge and he deserved a red card for that."
While Liverpool's thoughts will now turn to Saturday's home game with Crystal Palace, when Gerrard will play at Anfield for the final time, Rodgers called on the club's owners Fenway Sports Group to support attempts to improve the squad during the close season.
Asked if finishing outside the Champions League places would make it harder for Liverpool to attract new players to the club, he replied: "It would have been whether we were in it or not.
"It was always going to be difficult. We know the areas where we need to strengthen the squad, and hopefully we can do that.
"If we want to make the next step, we need to find the right acquisitions in the summer."