Roy Keane and Michael Dawson found common ground in their assessment of a challenge by Diego Carlos as Aston Villa beat Tottenham 2-1 in North London.
The Villans made it four wins from five in the league despite going a goal behind at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Giovani lo Celso’s deflected opener gave the hosts a 22nd-minute lead. However, the West Midlanders were level at the break courtesy of Pau Torres’ header deep into first-half stoppage time.
Ollie Watkins nailed his 12th goal of the campaign with an assist from Youri Tielemans on 61 minutes.
And that was enough for Unai Emery’s side to go marching into fourth place.
But it could well have been a different story had things gone differently in just the third minute of the contest.
Defender Carlos used his body to block Spurs’ Bryan Gil from reaching a ball heading to goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.
But, inexplicably, the Brazilian elbowed Gil in the face during the tussle.
It did not look good on replays but VAR was not available at the time due to a technical error.
Keane, voicing his opinion at half-time on Sky Sports, felt the South American was extremely lucky not to get his marching orders.
“Silly boy, he must look and think there’s obviously no chance he’s getting the ball but once you raise your elbow, it’s kind of a swinging elbow, very, very lucky,” he said.
Carlos could have easily conceded a penalty while seeing his side reduced to ten men.
But he rode his luck to play the full 90 minutes.
Dawson ‘can’t believe’ Carlos actions
In addition to Villa’s lofty Premier League position, they are also shining in Europe.
Following an opening loss to Legia Warsaw, the men in claret and blue have won three straight Europa Conference League games.
And they are now level on nine points with the Polish outfit.
Emery may be targeting bigger things than Europe’s third-tier competition for next season.
A top-four berth may be beyond Aston Villa and they will need their best players available to stand any chance of achieving that aim.
Carlos would have received a three-match ban had he been given a straight red.
And Dawson agreed with Keane that it was an unnecessary risk to take and one that could have led to disaster for his side.
“I can’t believe it, as a defender sometimes you can use your arms – he puts his elbow straight into Bryan Gil’s face there,” he said.
“When it was live I didn’t see anything, the balls so far away, I was thinking ‘why is Diego Carlos getting involved in this?’
“There’s no need, you see the way Bryan Gil’s face goes, he is a lucky, lucky boy.”