Michael Owen has told MatchDay Extra on Premier League Productions (18/03/23 at 8:05 pm) that Southampton’s late penalty to equalise against Tottenham on Saturday should not have been given, while former referee Dermot Gallagher disagreed.
Tottenham Hotspur were held to a 3-3 draw against struggling Southampton at the weekend, despite being two goals to the good with just 15 minutes to go.
Goals from Pedro Porro, Harry Kane, and Ivan Perisic were not enough to seal all three points for Spurs, as Theo Walcott closed the deficit before James Ward-Prowse scored an injury-time penalty to draw the Saints level.
It was a disappointing outcome for Spurs in their pursuit of a top-four finish this season, but the late penalty decision was not without its controversies.
Substitute Pape Matar Sarr attempted to clear the ball in his own box, but as he swung for the ball, Southampton’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles got there first.
The contact saw Maitland-Niles go down and win the spot kick, with VAR deciding to back referee Simon Hooper’s original decision.
Owen doesn’t believe it should have been a penalty, though, and said: “I thought it was a soft decision, to be honest. I don’t think there was enough contact. We have seen a couple of penalties like this given.
“No question, he (Maitland-Niles) gets there first, then he prods the ball away. But it’s not under control. I don’t see enough, if any, to knock him off his feet and then give him a penalty.
“I think it’s harsh. No way there is enough (contact). If he does catch him, then it’s a very slight glance.”
Owen went on to lament the current state of penalty decisions, adding: “We are getting to a stage now where everyone says ‘Oh, he’s touched him, so it’s a penalty’.
“A touch has never been a penalty, that’s not what the rules say. You can’t say ‘there is enough force in that to take his legs and swipe him off his feet.’ It’s ridiculous.”
Former referee Dermot Gallagher replied: “You are right, just because there’s contact, it doesn’t make it a foul and it doesn’t make it a penalty.
“But I think the referee is so close. He’s got the best view. He knows how much contact there is. I have seen it on the VAR. He has definitely caught him. He thinks it’s a penalty.
“There is nothing I can see to say it’s not a penalty because the picture does show that he does make contact. I can’t argue with him.”
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I don’t think it should have been given as a penalty in the first place, but I can see why VAR wouldn’t overturn the decision.
It’s a tight call which could have gone either way, and sadly it’s cost us a crucial two points this weekend.
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