Getting away with it

Jan Vertonghen was involved in two controversial penalty talking points in the 2-1 away win at Leicester City. The home side will feel aggrieved they weren't given. One of these incidents involved Jamie Vardy who later elbowed Hugo Lloris in the face and got away with what could so easily have been a red. It seems either the officials missed all the action or they simply interpreted the incidents differently to how most others viewed them.

So what did I see? Thanks to television and the rewind and replay option, I saw the Vertonghen double escape a fair few times.

Federico Fazio won and lost the ball with a momentary lapse of touch that allowed Vardy in. The player then took a touch in the hope he got past Vertonghen or that the Spurs defender took him down, either cynically or with a challenge that was timed short of perfection. Arguably in these moments the defender usually always takes a risk.

Vertonghen took the ball before he took the player even if it was a slight touch and the ref confidently agreed he won the ball. Was he right in doing so?

If you re-watch you'll note that Vardy touches the ball so it heads towards the near post but in comes the tackle with the boot of Vertonghen who makes a connection and in the follow-through takes down Vardy. The ball is still momentarily in play before going out for a corner. Momentarily not enough (for the official) to think it was still playable. It probably was, just about.

Jan nicked the ball. Well, just about nicked it. The question is whether you believe the tackle warrants punishment regardless of Jan getting his boot to the ball first because of where the ball was travelling to (and where Vardy was heading before he got pulled down).

The ball is still in play when the follow-through plays out so you wouldn't have scoffed at the decision had the ref pointed to the spot.

The interpretation on this occasion appears to have been clouded because of that touch Vertonghen had. Say Jan had taken the ball cleaner than he had, so much so that the ball went directly off for a corner and the player was still brought down then a penalty would not have been forthcoming because they'd have been no ambiguity. Why? Because it would have been cleanly won.

Because Vardy took that touch to take the ball beyond Vertonghen you could say the defender was lucky to get that slight nick of the ball. But then again how does one define a legal tackle in this instance? You could argue Jan had no option but to lunge in to stand any chance of winning the ball - which he did (sort of).

I'm biased so I'm going to agree with the official.

The second incident proves it's a lottery when an official will punish players for shirt pulling. This was more clear cut yet completely ignored. Lucky Jan, lucky Spurs, unlucky Leicester.

 

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