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Ref Watch: Why VAR backed referee's call to deny Liverpool last-gasp penalty against Man City

Ex-referee Dermot Gallagher analyses the key incidents from the weekend's Premier League fixtures, including the big decisions in Liverpool vs Man City, Arsenal vs Brentford, Brighton vs Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa vs Tottenham Hotspur

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The Ref Watch panel discuss whether Liverpool should have been awarded a late penalty for a foul from Manchester City's Jeremy Doku on Alexis Mac Allister

Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher dissects the flashpoints from the weekend's football.

Liverpool 1-1 Man City

VAR took a long took at the decision before the on-field decision of 'no penalty' stood
Image: After Jeremy Doku's challenge on Alexis Mac Allister, VAR took a long took at the decision before the on-field decision of 'no penalty' stood

Incident: Liverpool were denied a last-gasp penalty when Jeremy Doku clattered Alexis Mac Allister with a high boot deep in second-half stoppage time.

Dermot says: "From my point of view, it's easy to give the penalty. If you give it, there won't be much talk about it.

"Doku gets the ball, there's no doubt about that - the argument is, does getting the ball negate a penalty?

"Well, we saw at Bournemouth [recently], no.

"VAR is sure Doku gets the ball, he's right, so he decides to go with the on-field decision of no penalty.

"It raises lots of dilemmas, I think there would be less argument if it was given as a penalty. I'm surprised there is a wide split. It's a big, big call. He made the decision based on what he saw."

Also See:

'Clear penalty - foul anywhere else on pitch'

Sue Smith on Sky Sports News said:

"It's a penalty. Anywhere else on the pitch it's a free-kick. If you raise your foot that high and connect with an opponent it's a foul. I saw it straight away and thought penalty.

"I thought the VAR would send the referee over to the pitchside screen to check, to have another look. It's quite difficult to see from the angle of the referee.

"Mac Allister actually touches the ball first, then Doku wins it. I was really surprised that wasn't given as a penalty."

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The Ref Watch team discuss whether Nathan Ake fouled Liverpool's Alexis Mac Allister in the lead-up to John Stones' goal for Manchester City

Incident: John Stones rounded off a perfect training-ground routine from Kevin De Bruyne's clever corner to give Man City a first-half lead - but was Nathan Ake illegally blocking Alexis Mac Allister in the lead up to the goal?

Dermot says: "I think it's a good goal. I was surprised when I saw it - I thought 'where are the defenders?'

"They set up differently, and Ake is just too strong. I'd be surprised if the referee penalised anyone there."

Arsenal 2-1 Brentford

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The Ref Watch panel discuss Kai Havertz's penalty claim where it appeared to be simulation but former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher believes Rob Jones and the officials made the correct call in not sending off Havertz for diving

Incident: Brentford boss Thomas Frank felt Kai Havertz should have been sent off before scoring Arsenal's winner for an apparent dive in the final half hour, having already been booked for an elbow earlier in the game.

Havertz was awarded yellow card for a trailing arm on Kristoffer Ajer.

Dermot says: "We've seen lots of these this season. He looks at the ball the whole time, not the player, but Havertz does throw an arm out which catches Ajer in the face.

"You've seen plenty of yellow cards for that offence this season."

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Was match-winner Kai Havertz fortunate to avoid being sent off after the Arsenal forward went to the ground easily while already on a yellow card against Brentford?

Incident: Havertz escapes second yellow for supposedly diving under pressure from Nathan Collins inside the box.

Dermot says: "This is very interesting, this decision. If you look at the referee's angle, he sees the ball go to the right, which gives the indication that Nathan Collins has played the ball.

"You also think Havertz goes over Collins' leg - when you see it from an alternative angle it's not the case. But baring in mind the referee decides no penalty. The VAR has two decisions - is it a penalty? No.

"VAR says no penalty, and he cannot recommend a second yellow card. The only time he can say it's simulation is if the penalty is awarded. There is no halfway house, it's all or nothing.

"I think there is enough contact - if you're going to send a player off for diving it's got to be a clear dive."

Brighton 1-0 Nottingham Forest

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Dermot Gallagher was insistent that Brighton's Jakub Moder should have been sent off, as the Polish midfielder's 'dangerous' challenge on Nottingham Forest's Neco Williams was only punished with a yellow card

Incident: Jakub Moder avoided a 67th-minute red card for a lunging challenge on Neco Williams that only drew a caution.

Dermot says: "I don't know [how the red is not given]. If you look at it, he takes off, both feet in the air. That's the clue.

"Speed, intensity and point of contact - it's dangerous. Red card for me. For whatever reason the referee and VAR did not think it was a sending off, but for me it is."

'A poor call'

Sue Smith on Sky Sports News:

"99 per cent of people would say that's a red card. It's dangerous. Straight away you look at it and say 'that's an awful tackle'.

"He goes in with intensity, he's off the ground. Everything points to a red card. You can understand the frustration of Nuno when he's talking after the game - that's yet another decision to go against Nottingham Forest.

"It's a poor call."

Aston Villa 0-4 Tottenham

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Dermot Gallagher discusses whether referee Chris Kavanagh made the correct call in dismissing Aston Villa's John McGinn for a foul on Destiny Udogie

Incident: John McGinn is shown a straight red card for taking out Destiny Udogie.

Dermot says: "Credit to the referee here. Cool, calm and composed. Absolutely spot on.

"McGinn comes from a long way with intensity and speed. He's never ever going to get the ball. What the referee did well was take his time, run it through his head, and then dismiss the player correctly."

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