Dean Smith defends Jack Grealish after Aston Villa captain booked for simulation
Aston Villa lost 1-0 to Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday after controversial last-minute decision to rule out 'equaliser'
Last Updated: 01/09/19 8:13am
Dean Smith has fiercely defended Jack Grealish and criticised the officials after his captain was booked for simulation in the build-up to a late Aston Villa equaliser that was ruled out.
Smith's side were trailing 1-0 to Crystal Palace when, in the final moments of the game, Henri Lansbury thought he had snatched a late point.
However, just before he struck the ball into the net, referee Kevin Friend blew his whistle - disallowing the goal as play had technically stopped - after he believed Grealish went down too easily from a Gary Cahill tackle.
A furious Grealish was then booked.
Did the officials not consult VAR?
The decision was hugely contentious as the Aston Villa players pleaded their case but, with nothing appearing to be overturned from VAR, the decision stood - leaving the visitors left empty-handed and Smith disappointed with the officials.
The Aston Villa boss said: "I saw it as a good goal. I still don't understand why it has been chalked off.
"Jack's gone through, made a really good run and gets a nudge in the back that puts him off balance. He gets into the box and Cahill comes in with the challenge as he's playing the ball off Lansbury.
"He goes down and doesn't even look like he's looking for a penalty, and then Henri slots it. Then mayhem ensues.
"I spoke in the week about VAR and subjective decisions, but I'm sure that system [VAR] is in to right the wrongs. What they hear down the microphones from the referees, they cannot overrule it even if they see something.
"I always wondered how I'd be when the first one went against me so I'm disappointed because I can't see anything. Having watched it back, I couldn't see anything wrong… Simulation? No chance.
"For me, it is a perfectly good goal that's been rubbed off today."
'Grealish is having integrity questioned'
Aston Villa captain Grealish was the most fouled player in the Sky Bet Championship last season, and Smith was unhappy that his midfielder was once again under the spotlight for diving.
"If I was Jack Grealish, I would be raging because he's having his integrity questioned, not only by the officials here but the officials in Stockley Park," Smith added.
"He's the most-fouled player in the league already. He was the most-fouled player in the Championship last season, so there is no reputation. He made a great run and laid it off for Lansbury.
"We should be going away with a point. The first three fouls were made by Palace today, two of them around their box with no cautions given. Then, within a 10-minute spell, we ended up with four. I suppose the officials are only human, but they've had a poor game."
How the incident unfolded
In the 96th minute, and trailing 1-0, Grealish, made his way to the edge of the area after picking the ball up in midfield. He took a nudge in the back from Wilfried Zaha, but stayed on his feet, before Cahill came in with a challenge.
The defender stuck his legs out to get to the ball as Grealish laid the ball off to Lansbury on the right-hand side.
The Aston Villa midfielder went over as the challenge came in, with referee Friend blowing his whistle just before Lansbury's shot hit the back of the net. That meant play had technically been stopped and the goal would not stand.
There was plenty of confusion as players surrounded the referee as he went over to Grealish with a yellow card for simulation. The Villa captain was furious and had to be pulled away by the player who had fouled him - Cahill.
But what about VAR?
Although VAR checks all goals, it was unable to check this one because the whistle went before the ball went into the net.
VAR is allowed to review the potential penalty situation. However, having reviewed the incident, the verdict was that no 'clear and obvious' error had occurred and the on-field decision of simulation remained.