Six yel­lows could have been more

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Sport / Premier League - Keith Hack­ett is a for­mer ref­eree and his ebook, You are the Ref, is out now KEITH HACK­ETT

This clash brought mem­o­ries flood­ing back for me of the blood-and-thun­der con­tests of yes­ter­year. I was in charge of the so-called Bat­tle of Old Traf­ford in 1990, which was so feisty that it led to Arse­nal and United be­ing docked points.

Last night’s ref­eree, An­dre Mar­riner, bran­dished six cards

– but it could have been even more. That is not a sign that he let things spi­ral out of con­trol. He was pre­pared to take firm ac­tion to avoid the con­test boil­ing over.

Those who got off lightly in­cluded Marouane Fel­laini, Alexan­dre La­cazette and Mar­cos Rojo. Fel­laini was guilty of pulling Mat­teo Guen­douzi by the hair. Such an ac­tion tends to be more com­mon in over­seas foot­ball. It nor­mally mer­its a yel­low card for un­sport­ing be­hav­iour, but can on oc­ca­sion lead to a red for vi­o­lent con­duct. Fel­laini had been on the re­ceiv­ing end of hair-pulling by Robert Huth of Leices­ter City in May 2016. Huth got a yel­low card that day, so Fel­laini would have known last night he was skat­ing on thin ice.

Two min­utes later La­cazette headed the ball out of David De Gea’s hand and kicked it into the net. The ‘goal’ was rightly ruled out although the Arse­nal player could well have been shown a yel­low for un­sport­ing be­hav­iour. Fa­mously, Not­ting­ham For­est’s Gary Crosby once “mugged” Manch­ester City’s Andy Dib­ble in the same way, but that goal stood.

Fi­nally, Rojo was lucky to get away with a yel­low for the way he threw him­self at a re­bounded shot and caught Guen­douzi. It was a reck­less chal­lenge.

Head­strong: Marouane Fel­laini (top) and Alexan­dre La­cazette

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