Several of United’s players protested against referee Michael Salisbury after Tottenham’s first of three equalizers in Saturday’s 4-3 win for Antonio Conte’s side was disallowed. Kane netted from a corner in the 25th minute to cancel out Crysencio Summerville’s opener but only after defender Clement Lenglet had teed up Whites goalkeeper Illan Meslier who was left deep in his net after knocking the ball clear before Kane swung to score. Both Salisbury and Paul Tierney in VAR opted not to intervene and former Premier League official Gallagher felt Leeds were unlucky to see the goal stand.
“I think Lenglet is clearly wrong on the keeper for me and the clue for me is that the keeper is in the air,” Gallagher said on Ref Watch on Sky Sports News. “The goalkeeper is in the air, he has gone to play the ball. , I think Lenglet goes into him and I think they are very, very lucky to have a goal. It is so inconsistent with what we see week after week. The only thing you’d say we have is this suggestion that the goalkeeper is overprotected. Well, he wasn’t there, I was surprised no mistake.”
Asked why VAR had not intervened, Gallagher reasoned: “I can only assume that the referee has fed back to VAR what he has seen, VAR has looked at it and concluded that it is not a clear and obvious foul.”
Gallagher was joined in the studio by weekly guests Stephen Warnock and Sue Smith, neither of whom could understand the decision. Asked by presenter Rob Wotton whether or not the goal should have stood, Warnock said without hesitation: “No. It passed me by. Sue and I spoke about this this morning. Meslier is in a good position to hit the ball. But as soon as you get pushed, that ability to really hit the ball is weakened then so he can’t get a real hit on it, he’s pushed into the goal.
“I’m in that camp where the goalies get too much protection. I think you can be a little physical with them to a certain degree. But when he’s in the air, you can’t pressure him, you can’t. And This is the only thing that really frustrates me sometimes is what the referee on the pitch has said. The referee on the pitch has seen it from his angle. The VAR manager gets the opportunity to see it from three, four angles.
“We have a clear angle here that shows Lenglet going into him, causing a problem, it’s a foul, clear foul. You’ve missed something. But from your angle it looks okay and it’s like how can you not see that? And how can you not understand the impact it also has on the game? That’s the frustrating part of it all.”
Smith added: “Meslier comes up to try to hit it and when he’s in the air he gets pushed into his net so he can’t make good contact on it and there’s no attempt to play the ball. I was so surprised that the goal had to stand.”
Gallagher also gave his opinion on three other key talking points from the competition, starting with Marc Roca’s challenge on Eric Dier which earned the Whites midfielder a booking. Roca caught Dier high with an outstretched leg but Gallagher felt a caution and not a sending off was the right decision.
“I refer back to Virgil van Dijk one that I took a lot of stick over, people say his foot is very, very high,” Gallagher said. “I think his foot is high and I think if he follows through it’s a red card. But when you see it, it just comes down for him and for me it’s not serious foul play.”
Warnock added: “There’s another angle to it as well that VAR got where you look at Marc Roca and he just has eyes on the ball. He doesn’t look once at the opposition. He doesn’t look once at Dier and I think that probably taken into account.”
Gallagher was then asked about the decision to allow Rodrigo’s 76th-minute strike to stand amid protests from Tottenham players that Rodrigo Bentancur had been fouled in the build-up.
“I don’t think it’s a foul and I think even if it was a foul it would be considered too far back,” Gallagher said. “But I think if you look, he (Bentancur) pushed the ball too far. I just think he throws himself to the ground. I don’t think it’s wrong. The referee has the best view, the referee is very close and the game goes on . Not for me. The ref actually waves it away, the ref actually waves him, no get up.”
Finally, Gallagher was asked about Salisbury’s decision to send out United’s already cautioned USA international midfielder Tyler Adams for a second booking in the closing stages following a trip with Tottenham’s Yves Bissouma. There was no debate about it.
“When you get a yellow card you just don’t do a challenge like this because you’re just inviting trouble,” said the former official. “Stephen (Warnock) used a great phrase a few weeks ago, you offer the referee a decision.”
Adams will now be suspended for United’s return to action at home to Manchester City after the World Cup break.
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