Football Expert & Columnist
Etienne Capoue slammed for Wilfried Zaha challenge by Graeme Souness
"Referee bottled it - 100 per cent a red card"
Last Updated: 27/08/18 7:09am
Graeme Souness blasted Watford's Etienne Capoue for a challenge on Wilfried Zaha that he described as "100 per cent a red card".
The Frenchman was given an early booking in Watford's 2-1 win at Vicarage Road after appearing to rake his studs down the back of the Crystal Palace player's Achilles, with referee Anthony Taylor deciding the tackle was worthy only of a yellow card.
The Sky Sports pundit, however, disagreed with the official's call and also hit out at the officials.
"He (Capoue) set out to nail Zaha," Souness told Sky Sports. "Just look where the referee is. What is he, three, four yards away from it? For the life of me, how does the referee not see that as a red card?
"It tells me one of two things: he's completely bottled it, or he doesn't understand football.
"He (Capoue) is trying to hurt him badly. When you damage your Achilles tendon badly, which there was a real danger of happening there, you're never the same player again.
"The referee, for me... I find it so frustrating. You can't just say he got it wrong. It's not as if he has got an obscured view. It's not as if it could be or might be a red card.
"That is 100 per cent a red card. There's leaving a bit on someone, and there's real malice in that, trying to injure him for a long, long time."
Fellow pundits Jamie Redknapp and Alan Smith both agreed that Capoue should have been dismissed, with the former calling the tackle "nasty, malicious and spiteful", while the latter claimed the player "was lucky not to be sent off".
Capoue did not discuss the challenge, which Watford's head coach Javi Gracia claimed he had not seen.
That is 100 per cent a red card. There's leaving a bit on someone, and there's real malice in that, trying to injure him for a long, long time
While agreeing that Capoue should have been dismissed, the Palace manager said he understood why the official only cautioned the player.
"I have only seen it now," he told Sky Sports after the game. "Of course, I saw the foul, but you do not see the way he stamped down the back of his calf.
"We were not happy about the foul anyway, but seeing it with the benefit of TV and the clear angles, I would have to say that yes we were unlucky he was not sent off there.
"But I do not blame the referee for it because sometimes referees see those more as fouls. And I am sure that when he sees it now with the TV, then he would probably agree with us as well."