In the latest edition of Ref Watch, former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher runs the rule over the weekend’s big incidents and asks whether Cristiano Ronaldo should have followed Paul Pogba from the field in Manchester United’s humbling defeat to Liverpool…
REFEREE: Anthony Taylor
INCIDENT: Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba lunges in on Naby Keita, misses the ball and connects with the Liverpool midfielder’s shin. A yellow card is initially shown but it is upgraded to red following a VAR review before Keita leaves the field on a stretcher.
DERMOT’S VERDICT: “It’s definitely the right decision. The referee sees it as a yellow card because of where he is on the pitch, but when you see it back Pogba clearly goes over the ball, arrives from distance, and makes contact with Keita’s studs, and when you come from distance you gather intensity. The fact Keita had to leave the field on a stretcher showed how bad a tackle it was, Pogba was quite rightly sent off.”
INCIDENT: Cristiano Ronaldo bundles Curtis Jones over and twice tries to kick the ball from under the Liverpool midfielder while he is on the ground. Ronaldo makes contact with the ball with both kicks but there is force behind his attempts to win the ball back and he is shown a yellow card.
DERMOT’S VERDICT: “Ronaldo was lucky the ball was there, that is what saved him from being shown a red card. What also helped was that he stopped when he did. It wasn’t the wisest thing to do, there is force behind the kicks, but the fact that the ball was there has done him a great favour.
“When you look at it in the end, the yellow card was the right decision. It’s difficult to say if things would have been different had Jones rolled about on the floor but he didn’t, he was very good and very professional.”
INCIDENT: Bruno Fernandes is nowhere near the ball when he blatantly cleans Curtis Jones out as the Liverpool midfielder breaks down the right wing at Old Trafford. Jones is caught on the shin by Fernandes’ lunging challenge, but the Portuguese is shown only a yellow card for the incident.
DERMOT’S VERDICT: “A lot of people thought this should have been a red card, but it doesn’t fall into that category. Fernandes goes in one-footed; he goes in low, he doesn’t follow through, and his studs don’t make contact into the shin or calf like typical red-card offences. I don’t think it’s a good challenge, but it’s a yellow card not a red.”
REFEREE: Kevin Friend
INCIDENT: Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sanchez fumbles the ball in his penalty area and is punished as Bernardo Silva hooks the ball inside for Ilkay Gundogan to tap Manchester City into the lead. Sanchez claims he has been fouled by City striker Gabriel Jesus, but his appeals fall on deaf ears.
DERMOT’S VERDICT: “I don’t think there is a foul. The ball is there to be won, Jesus goes to head the ball and has eyes only for the ball. The goalkeeper comes and actually initiates contact with Jesus rather than vice versa. The goalkeeper loses the ball because he tries to collect it over the top of Jesus, who has every right to be where he is.”
REFEREE: Paul Tierney
INCIDENT: Tanguy Ndombele goes to ground in the West Ham area after apparent contact from Kurt Zouma but Tottenham’s penalty appeals are turned down, with the challenge deemed merely to be a coming together.
DERMOT’S VERDICT: “I think Ndombele steps on the ball. I would give the benefit of the doubt to the defender because I don’t think it’s an obvious foul.”
REFEREE: Robert Jones
INCIDENT: Romain Saiss catches Leeds forward Raphinha on the ankle with a forceful lunging tackle. The Brazilian is forced off injured but Saiss only sees yellow for the challenge after being penalised for handball.
DERMOT’S VERDICT: “When I saw this on Saturday, I thought Saiss was very lucky. I don’t think this challenge is too dissimilar from the one which saw Pogba sent off. What I would say is that the referee doesn’t have the best view, he thinks Raphinha hurdles Saiss because he actually penalises the Wolves defender for handball.
“If the referee saw the incident again, had the view we have got and seen where Saiss’ leg was planted with the studs into shin, he may well have made a different decision. The VAR has clearly felt the same as the referee on the field, but a player has had to leave the field because of an injury. If Saiss had been shown a red card, he couldn’t have complained.”
INCIDENT: Leeds United striker Joe Gelhardt’s driving injury-time run into the Wolves area is brought to a halt when defender Nelson Semedo shoves the 19-year-old to the ground. A penalty is awarded, and Rodrigo holds his nerve from the spot to rescue a dramatic late point for Leeds.
DERMOT’S VERDICT: “When you look at this initially you think it’s a clumsy challenge, but when you look at it again, Nelson Semedo actually pushes Joe Gelhardt with force. If you do that, the referee has no option but to give a penalty if he sees that.
REFEREE: Darren England
INCIDENT: Christian Benteke heads Crystal Palace back into the lead with a towering 87th-minute header but VAR intervenes, bringing Marc Guehi’s shirt pull on Ciaran Clark to referee Darren England’s attention, and the goal is disallowed.
DERMOT’S VERDICT: “This is an amazing spot by Lee Mason, who was the VAR. When this was disallowed, I wondered why, but when you see the replay you can see how good a decision it is. Guehi clearly grabs Clark’s shirt. Considering how crowded the penalty area was, it was amazing how it was spotted so quickly. Immediately the VAR intervened and said it was a foul, which it was.”
REFEREE: Andy Madley
INCIDENT: Antonio Rudiger’s shot is blocked en route to goal by the arm of Norwich defender Mathias Normann and Chelsea are awarded a penalty, which Mason Mount converts at the second attempt after Tim Krul was penalised for encroachment while saving the first penalty.
DERMOT’S VERDICT: “This fits into the criteria of handball, doesn’t it? The defender will say he is trying to block the ball, but it hits his hand, which is extended. You cannot do that, that is how the new laws are configured, penalty.”
Arsenal 3-1 Aston Villa
REFEREE: Craig Pawson
INCIDENT: Alexandre Lacazette beats Matt Targett to the ball in the area, with the Aston Villa defender coming through the back of the Arsenal striker. After a lengthy VAR review, the decision to award Arsenal a penalty is reached, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang doubles the Gunners’ lead with a rebound after his spot-kick is saved by Emiliano Martinez.
DERMOT’S VERDICT: “I think this was a penalty, but this incident raised a lot of issues. The game went on too long afterwards, they could have stopped the game earlier. That said, it is a penalty.”