Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey has disagreed with the decision not to send Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dejan Kulusevski off during the Lilywhites’ Premier League tie against Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday afternoon.
The two sides, who are in action in London, will be looking to take an important three points away from the country’s capital.
However, despite the Lilywhites coming into the early kick-off as clear favourites to finish inside the league’s top four, hard-hitting Italian manager Antonio Conte would have been furious with how his side started.
The game’s first half, although ending goal-less, saw Graham Potter’s Seagulls the side with the better chances.
However, one of the game’s biggest talking points has been an incident that occurred between Kulusevski and Brighton full-back Marc Cucurella.
Just shy of half-time, the former Juventus man was spotted throwing a nasty looking elbow backwards and in the direction of his defensive opponent.
Luckily, contact was minimal but the Sweden international’s intent was clear for all to see. Surprisingly, referee Craig Pawson opted against showing a red card and instead issued the midfielder with just a yellow.
Speaking exclusively to CaughtOffside about the shock decision, former referee Halsey said: “Kulusevski is very, very lucky to still be on the field of play. It’s a clear act of violent conduct. It isn’t a reckless use of the arm, which would be a caution. He clenched his fists and threw his elbow back into Cucurella’s chest – just under his chin.
“Cucurella has done him a big favour there by not going down in that situation. I think a lot of players would have gone down so he definitely has him to thank.
“I don’t understand why VAR didn’t get involved. They obviously feel it is subjective and it is not a ‘clear and obvious’ error by the on-field referee. But for me, I think he is very, very fortunate to still be on the field of play. I personally believe it was an act of violent conduct.
“Put it this way – had Craig Pawson had shown a red card, it wouldn’t have been reviewed or overturned.”