Exclusive – Keith Hackett explains why Martin Atkinson made an error in awarding Crystal Palace the penalty vs Man United

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I think we can all be sure that fans around the country will be feeling like karma has caught up with Man United after they were awarded some very generous refereeing decisions last season.

It was amazing to see Crystal Palace being awarded a penalty after Martin Atkinson had a chance to watch the incident back on the pitch side monitor during their game this evening.

The ball clearly strikes Victor Lindelof on the hand, but it comes at him with pace and from close in, and Gary Neville’s incredulity on the commentary summed up the general feeling around the decision.

READ MORE: Video: VAR controversy as De Gea saves penalty for Man United only for Zaha to score retaken spot-kick

It looked like things would even out as the spot kick was saved, but things became even more incredible as VAR judged that David de Gea had strayed from his line and the kick was retaken – and scored to make it 2-0.

There are similarities to the decision to award a penalty for Liverpool vs Leeds last season where there’s no doubt that the ball hit an arm, but it was down to the ref to make a judgement call on whether a foul should’ve been given.

To clear things up I asked former Premier League referee Keith Hackett about the call, and he doesn’t believe the penalty kick should have been given:

“It is evident to me that this is NOT an handball offence and the Manchester United player should not have been penalised.”

“Atkinson looks bemused when asked to review the situation by VAR, and he took some time to convince himself that his original decision was incorrect.”

“The ordering of the retake was correct and I support the match officials.”

There are a couple of interesting points to take away from this, but the sheer amount of time that it took to reach the decision suggests that the penalty should not have been given.

Most decisions will have an element of judgement call about them and VAR is there to overturn clear and obvious errors. In this situation it took several minutes and multiple camera angles, which tells us that there was nothing clear and obvious about it.

VAR is not there to slowly convince an official to change their mind, and we need to trust them enough to stand by the original judgement unless something egregious has happened.

In terms of the re-take that’s different because it’s like offside where it’s a black and white situation, so if he’s off the line even slightly then it has to be retaken.

Clearly Man United have every reason to be annoyed about the penalty decision today, but it’s also not the reason they lost the game either.




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