The VAR Review: Pickford foul on Haaland and Aymeric Laporte red card claims


Referee Anthony Taylor and his VAR team may have made big mistakes in Manchester City’s 3-0 win at Everton on Sunday.

It was a near-perfect weekend in the Premier League for Manchester City and co as they extended their lead at the top of the table with a win.

Not only that, but with title rivals Arsenal losing 3-0 at home to Brighton and Hove Albion, it looks as though the division will be won by City once again.

The win at Goodison Park came largely thanks to a moment of brilliance from Ilkay Gundogan which was swiftly followed by the inevitable Erling Haaland goal, before the German then made it 3-0 later on with a sumptuous free kick.

However, when the score was still 3-0, Everton can perhaps count themselves a bit lucky they didn’t get a penalty for Pickford foul on Haaland.

In the 74th minute, Riyad Mahrez played in a deep cross. The ball looped up after Nathan Patterson attempted an interception, and as Jordan Pickford came out to try to claim the ball, he collided with erling Haaland. Referee Anthony Taylor allowed play to continue with no real appeals for a penalty.

According to a review via ESPN, this incident could have resulted in all three possible outcomes: a penalty to Man City, a free kick to everton or play on. Referee Taylor chose the last option, and there isn’t enough definitive evidence to say that was incorrect.

Pickford checks on Haaland’s position, while Haaland looks at Pickford twice before stopping his movement toward the ball to block the goalkeeper’s path. Pickford’s arm catches Haaland as the keeper appears to reach for the dropping ball. Whether Pickford was trying to get to the ball or just to Haaland will be open to personal interpretation.

Had Haaland not looked at Pickford and continued his natural run to play the ball, there would have been a stronger case for a penalty; but both players were equally culpable in trying to “game” each other.

If Taylor had given the spot kick, it’d be unlikely to get overturned; whatever he decided on this wouldn’t be clearly wrong.

Did Laporte punch Yerry Mina?

Indeed, the Cityzens can perhaps also count themselves a bit fortunate that Laporte wasn’t set off.

Yerry Mina and Aymeric Laporte get into a brief scuffle waiting for a throw-in in the Everton area. Laporte hits out at Mina around his thigh, but the defender goes down clutching his face.

According to former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher via Sky Sports.

“He certainly doesn’t get hit in the face, does he? It’s almost like a fly swatter,” Dermot said.

“He’s grabbed hold of him as if to say ‘get off me’, and suddenly he’s acting like he’s been punched in the face, which certainly didn’t happen.”

Perhaps Laporte is saved by the fact that Mina makes an absolute meal out of the situation and so it looks as though he’s exaggerating the whole incident.

However, the fact is, the Man City centre-back clenches a fist and strikes the opposition player on the arm.

After all, as per the official FA Rules, it is violent conduct and therefore a red card when a player “attempts to use excessive force or brutality against an opponent when not challenging for the ball, or against a team-mate, team official, match official, spectator or any other person, regardless of whether contact is made.”

Just Dermot, many may argue that Laporte doesn’t make a whole lot of contract with Mina, but the rules say that isn’t relevant and as he clenches his fist and lashes out, it certainly seems as though he had attempted to use “excessive force”.

Remarkably, however – despite journalist Patrick Boyland noting on Twitter: “Mina down after contact from Laporte. VAR has to look at this surely…” – the incident was not reviewed and so the officials really seemed to drop the ball here.

Man City reporter for The Athletic Sam Lee certainly seemed to be less than impressed by the moment of madness, as he simply wrote: “Laporte mate.”

All in all, it seems the Spain international got away with one here. Who knows, had he been sent off, perhaps everton would have got something from the game.

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