Ref Review: Liverpool’s Sadio a lucky Mane; Stoke pay the penalty

Date published: Tuesday 3rd April 2018 8:56

Another weekend of controversial decisions as Sadio Mane gets lucky, while Stoke can feel aggrieved and what was Jose Holebas thinking? – all in Ref Review.

Refereeing decisions are regularly the source of debate among fans, pundits, players and managers so this season a five-strong TEAMtalk panel will be passing judgement on every red card (or avoidance of one), every penalty and any other major incident every matchday.

We’ll also decide on a weekly basis which side can consider themselves lucky and which was the easiest decision for a match official to make.


Sadio Mane yellow card v Crystal Palace

Mane was booked fairly early on at Selhurst Park for perceived simulation in the area. In terms of the booking there looked to be precious little contact from the Palace defender and then, after a clear delay, Mane suddenly threw himself into the air and went down clutching a leg that had not been touched by the opposition defender!

So we are inclined to agree with Neil Swarbrick that he was deliberately trying to deceive the officials and win a penalty. Ergo, the yellow was perfectly justified. Fair play to Swarbrick too for consulting his assistant having not had the clearest of views himself.

Verdict: Correct decision


Sadio Mane handball v Crystal Palace

The Senegalese was obviously already on a booking when he deliberately flicked the ball away from Yohan Cabaye and Andros Townsend. It was deliberate handball – given that the referee had not previously blown for a foul – and therefore should have merited a second booking.

Bizarrely Swarbrick gave the foul for handball but didn’t follow up with a second yellow, much to the chagrin of the Palace players who surrounded him. Tellingly Mane was hooked moments later by Jurgen Klopp, who later conceded “I thought he was gone.”

Verdict: Incorrect decision


Bournemouth penalty v Watford

A moment of absolute madness from Jose Holebas at Vicarage Road, who while shepherding a ball out of play inexplicably batted it out with his hand for the most ridiculous handball you will see all season.

Firstly, the ball was going out of play anyway and secondly he was also closest to it so if he wanted to make sure he averted the danger he could have nodded it out with his head and conceded a corner.

Verdict: Correct decision


Wilfred Ndidi red card v Brighton

Ndidi picked up his second yellow after catching Shane Duffy late on for Leicester and while it didn’t affect the final result opinion was divided as to whether the Leicester youngster should have seen red. To be fair he seemed to play the ball before coming into contact with the player and his reaction to his dismissal said it all.

He looked absolutely devastated and it looked a very, very soft decision. Afterwards Claude Puel questioned Chris Kavanagh’s call, saying “It is not a foul because he touched the ball and it changed direction.”

Verdict: Incorrect decision


Arsenal penalty #1 v Stoke City

It had been a very frustrating afternoon for the Gunners until Mesut Ozil went down in the area and was awarded a pretty dubious penalty. Replays show it was very harsh on Bruno Martins Indi, who won the ball and who if anything Ozil seemed to kick by accident before hitting the deck.

Ref Craig Pawson was miles away too and you would have to question whether he had a proper view of proceedings? It all looked very harsh on Stoke, with Paul Lambert revealing afterwards he’d had words with Craig Pawson about the award.

Verdict: Incorrect decision


Arsenal penalty #2 v Stoke City

A moment of madness from Badou Ndiaye in the area as he smashed into the back of Mesut Ozil, leaving Pawson no option but to blow for a second penalty of the afternoon.

By this point poor Stoke were collapsing like a cardboard tower and it’s difficult to see how they are going to drag themselves out of the relegation mire on this evidence.

Verdict: Correct decision


Chelsea offside goal v Tottenham

With the score at 0-0 Marcos Alonso had the ball in the net at Stamford Bridge as he calmly volleyed N’Golo Kante’s cross home with all the aplomb of a 30-goal a season striker. Sadly for him and for Chelsea he was just offside. Tight, but correct call.

Verdict: Correct decision

Team most likely to feel brassed off award

Crystal Palace

The Eagles gave it a real go against Liverpool yet will argue the Reds should have been forced to play the final half an hour if the game with 10 men after that Sane handball incident. The ref failed to produce a second booking though and Liverpool eventually won the game courtesy of a late Mo Salah strike.

Stonewall decision of the week

Jose Holebas handball

Crazy stuff from Holebas which looks worse every time we see it. After Junior Stanislas forced a fantastic save from Orestis-Spyridon Karnezis, Holebas clearly slapped the ball out of play with his hand. Bizarre and blatant, leaving the referee no choice but to point to the spot.


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