LONDON • Chelsea manager Frank Lampard expressed his frustration and confusion after his team were denied a penalty in Saturday’s 0-0 Premier League draw at Manchester United.
Blues captain Cesar Azpilicueta was wrestled by his United counterpart Harry Maguire when challenging for a header in the first half but the video assistant referee (VAR) dismissed the visitors’ penalty claims after reviewing the incident, to Lampard’s disbelief.
“I thought it was a clear penalty. Holding is allowed but headlocks aren’t. I couldn’t see it at the time from where I was standing and those ones are hard calls for the referee. It’s why we brought VAR into the game, but VAR was very quick to dismiss it,” he told reporters.
“They should have taken time and advised the referee to look at the monitor. If he watches the monitor, he has to give the penalty, so it’s confusing. There’s a frustration because the rules seemed to be moving in the right direction.
“The referees were looking at the monitor a bit more at the start of the season. The person on the pitch should always take first responsibility and that was given back to them with the monitor.”
Pundits, comprising former Chelsea and United players, were unanimous in their agreement the Blues should have had a spot kick.
Patrice Evra told Sky Sports that Maguire was guilty of a blatant foul, likening the centre-back’s action to a move more commonly seen in the World Wrestling Entertainment.
The former United defender said: “I used to watch wrestling but this is a clear penalty. I think we can talk all day but it’s a clear penalty for Chelsea.”
Former Blues striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink agreed, adding: “This is 100 per cent a penalty. What is Maguire doing?
“If you see it from a different angle, he’s just strangling Azpilicueta here and stops him from jumping. He’s putting his weight on his shoulders.”
The incident was the only flash point of a bore draw that saw little attacking intent from either side, with the clearest chance falling to United’s Marcus Rashford, who was denied by Edouard Mendy when put through on goal.
I used to watch wrestling but this is a clear penalty. I think we can talk all day but it’s a clear penalty for Chelsea.
United are without a win in their first three home league games for the first time in 48 years, leaving the Red Devils in a lowly 15th place in the standings.
But manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer defended his conservative approach at Old Trafford, claiming his team were missing the energy of fans, who are not allowed to watch matches in stadiums amid the Covid-19 crisis.
“In the second half, we pushed on and if the Stretford End had been full, we might get the goal to get us over the line, as it creates more pressure and urgency,” he said.
“We miss the fans, I must say. It is the same for all teams but I think everyone agrees the edge has gone. I can’t wait to get the fans back.”
However, the Norwegian was encouraged by the debut of new signing Edinson Cavani, who joined United earlier this month and came on as a second-half substitute, showing some good movement in the final third.
“He showed in glimpses what he can do. He’ll give us a presence in the box,” Solskjaer said. “He’s an experienced centre-forward and the more we get the ball to him in and around the box, we’ll get goals from him.”
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS