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Ref Watch: Was Man City’s penalty at Everton the correct call?

Ref Watch: Was Man City’s penalty at Everton the correct call?

Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher dissects the flashpoints from the festive football, including incidents from Man City’s win at Everton, Chelsea’s victory against Crystal Palace, Liverpool’s win at Burnley and Bernd Leno’s ball boy push in Fulham’s loss at Bournemouth.

INCIDENT: Manchester City were awarded a second-half penalty in their 3-1 win at Everton after Amadou Onana was judged to have handballed from Nathan Ake’s shot.

DERMOT SAYS: “I think it’s a modern-day penalty. If you see this kind of thing happen, the directive is, is the ball striking an arm above the shoulder or the head? It’s that high. The argument is, is it too close? Has he got time to react? But the minute I saw the replay I just said this is going to be given, there’s no doubt about that.

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Highlights from Everton’s match against Manchester City in the Premier League

“The referee gave it on field because of the assistant’s direction. It goes to VAR to check but it’s never going to be overturned.”

DYCHE REACTION: Everton boss Sean Dyche was understandably disappointed with the Onana handball decision that allowed Julian Alvarez to put City 2-1, with the Toffees manager claiming it was “not deliberate”.

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Following Everton’s defeat to Man City, Sean Dyche says he has no clue what the handball law is and believes it’s bizarre

DERMOT SAYS: “I think he [Dyche] makes lots and lots of good points, but, unfortunately, it’s a problem created for the referees. Offside was the big talking point but now it’s handball which they’ve tried to make it so precise. Is the arm in this position? Is the arm above the head, or is it above the shoulder? Has it come this far?

“I think by trying to make it so precise it’s made it more complicated for the referees and they’ve actually become the victims of this directive and because of that I think whilst it is like it is then penalties are always going to be given. That’s almost moved to what it’s like in the Champions League – they always give them. But if that was in a Champions League game, Onana would have also had a yellow card as well. So at least they haven’t gone that far.

“One of my friends spoke to me earlier and said the time that [Ake’s shot] travelled was 0.2 seconds, the time the player [Onana] would react in his brain to that ball travelling his 1.1 seconds, so he has no chance.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 27: Amadou Onana of Everton blocks the shot of Nathan Ake of Manchester City with his arm and a penalty is subsequently awarded during the Premier League match between Everton FC and Manchester City at Goodison Park on December 27, 2023 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Everton’s Amadou Onana was judged to have handballed from Nathan Ake’s shot in their 3-1 home defeat to Man City

“Sean [Dyche] says there that it wasn’t deliberate. I get that, it wasn’t. There’s no way it was deliberate. But deliberate isn’t written in the law, and 90 per cent of penalties that are given for handball are not deliberate anyhow.”


DERMOT SAYS: “I think it’s inevitable that come March’s meeting [IFAB Annual General Meeting] that something will get tweaked, because it’s just week after week after week, we’re talking about a similar subject.

“We look at similar incidents and by and large, you’re getting penalties. There’s been a lot more penalties given for handball than ever before.”

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Highlights from the Premier League as Chelsea faced Crystal Palace

INCIDENT: Chelsea were awarded a late penalty for a foul on Noni Madueke by Crystal Palace forward Eberechi Eze that Madueke converted to give the Blues a 2-1 home win. The foul was initially not given by referee Michael Salisbury but he overturned his decision after being sent to the pitchside monitor by VAR.

DERMOT SAYS: “Clear penalty for me. The player dangles a leg, Madueke’s going round him, Eze doesn’t get the ball and he’s nowhere near the ball so I think clear penalty. Good intervention from VAR.

Asked why Michael Salisbury failed to initially award the penalty, Dermot replied: “He just misread the situation because he’s waved it away.

“But in fairness to him, he retains all options so he can go to the screen and he can still say, ‘No, I don’t think it’s a penalty’. He’s gone to the screen and he’s very quickly looked and gone, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve made a mistake there – penalty’, but it is a penalty.”

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Dermot Gallagher explains if two Liverpool goals were correctly disallowed against Burnely

INCIDENT: Liverpool’s Cody Gakpo has a first-half goal disallowed in the 2-0 win at Burnley after referee Paul Tierney felt Darwin Nunez fouled Charlie Taylor.

DERMOT SAYS: “I think if he doesn’t give it, nobody says anything.

“The clue for me is Charlie Taylor, because if you see Taylor, he just puts his hands on his head as much to go, ‘What have I done?’

“But the certainty is, if the goal would have been scored, VAR wouldn’t be coming back to overrule that.”

INCIDENT: Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott’s has a second-half goal disallowed in the win at Turf Moor after Mohamed Salah was judged to be in an offside position following a VAR review.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League clash between Burnley and Liverpool

DERMOT SAYS: “If you look where Salah is, he is directly in front of [Burnley goalkeeper] James Trafford. Whether Trafford would have ever been able to stop it, nobody knows but he’s in front of him. The argument being that Salah gets a little push from the defender, which pushes him into an offside position.

“I think the dilemma is that, is the push enough to give a penalty? I would say no, so the fact that he’s in that position, is just unfortunate.

“It’s just such an unusual situation because he is in line, but he’s in line because he gets a little shove into there, but not enough to give a penalty.

“The referee’s only got two options: offside or penalty? I don’t think it’s a penalty, so he’s got to give offside.”

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Dermot Gallagher explains if Bernd Leno was lucky to escape punishment for shoving a ball boy at the Vitality Stadium

INCIDENT: Fulham goalkeeper Bernd Leno, who was already on a yellow card, snatched the ball from a ball boy and then put his palm into his chest during the Cottagers’ 3-0 defeat at Bournemouth.

DERMOT SAYS: “The biggest winner for me out of this was the ball boy, because he was just so calm, so composed and he didn’t make a fuss about it.

“But it’s just a very unwise thing to do [from Leno], and I think the fact that the ball boy reacted so well that it diffused it very quickly.”

Asked what the guidance to officials on this type of incident is, Dermot replied: “Be mindful of the fact that is it aggressive, nasty or serious? I think it was more petulant than anything, but not wise.”

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