Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher has defended Dejan Kulusevski, insisting that the Tottenham man deserved nothing more than a yellow for swinging his hand at Marc Cucurella.
In the first half of Tottenham’s 1-0 loss to Brighton, Kulusevski seemed to swing his hand at Cucurella, with the Seagulls star reacting by holding his face. Referee Craig Pawson produced a yellow card for the Tottenham winger at the time.
However, some pundits, including the likes of Jermaine Jeans, have claimed that the Sweden international was using violent content and deserved to be sent off (BT Sport 16/04/22 via Daily Mail).
The former Spurs midfielder insisted that the 21-year-old was evidently trying to catch Cucurella in the face.
This view is not shared by Gallagher, who claimed the Spurs winger threw his arm back in petulance rather than in an effort to hurt the Brighton defender. However, Gallagher admitted that Kulusevski was running a massive risk in reacting in the way he did.
When asked about the incident, the former Premier League official told Sky Sports: “I never once thought, when I watched it, that he would get sent off.
“I think he reacts stupidly really when you look at it because he does run a risk, but I think he throws his arm back more in petulance. It’s a get off me.
“It’s not thrown back with the crook of the elbow or as a weapon, and it does not hit him in the face. It’s not done with real malice, so I thought a yellow card was right.
“I thought the referee judged it right. A lot of other people thought it was a red card but for me, I just didn’t think it was.
“He does throw his arm back, it is aggressive, but I didn’t think it was violent. I do think he was lucky.
“He has run a massive risk, there’s no doubt about it. It’s one where you have to judge what the referee sees and what he does, and the VAR looked for a long time and felt the same.”
Spurs Web Opinion
I agree with Gallagher that Kulusevski was not trying to make contact with his elbow and the replay makes the incident seem much worse than it is.
However, having said that, it was petulant by the Swede, who was risking a needless red card. One would expect one of the coaches to warn the 21-year-old about reacting in such a manner as opposition defenders will continue trying to get under his skin.
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