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Thomas Tuchel and Cesar Azpilicueta criticise referee over Chelsea’s ‘harsh’ red card vs Liverpool


Reece James was given his marching orders just before half-time (Pictures: PA / Sky Sports)

Chelsea duo Thomas Tuchel and Cesar Azpilicueta have both criticised the decision to send off Reece James in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Anfield, questioning why the referee was only shown a still of the incident.

The west Londoners took an early lead through Kai Havertz and looked very dangerous going forward, but the game flipped on its head just before the half-time break when James was adjudged to have handled on the line.

Referee Anthony Taylor initially missed the incident but came over to the VAR screen and immediately decided to award a penalty and a red card, though Chelsea’s manager was unhappy with how quickly the decision was made.

Azpilicueta did not appear happy with the referee throughout the game (Picture: Reuters)

‘I don’t know anymore what happens and what does not happen. We were just a bit worried that he was just looking at a photo and the photo gives a clear image that it’s a red card and a penalty,’ Tuchel told Sky Sports.

‘For me it was too quick, I would have wished for a longer check and to see the whole situation, where it gets deflected.

‘I can remember referees explaining to us, if it’s a deflection and it’s not a very unnatural arm position, then it’s not a penalty.

‘Maybe he stays with the decision [if he watched the video] but I heard an explanation where it’s not a handball and then maybe he would have done another decision. I’m not blaming him for making the decision, but how he took it was for me too quick.’

Speaking to BBC Sport, skipper Azpilicueta echoed his manager’s words, saying: ‘Harsh. I feel sorry for Reece. The referee got advice from VAR to give it. He went to the screen to watch one replay.

‘We got the double punishment, red card and a penalty – and two yellow cards in the same action. We were angry. But you have to calm down and find a way to fight together as a team. I think the team fought and maybe we had the best two chances in the second half.’

Referee Taylor made a decision over the penalty very quickly (Picture: Getty)

He expanded further to Sky Sports: ‘I would like to know if first he touches the ball with his leg, which can be [a mitigating circumstance]. You know the handball rule, we had a meeting… it’s difficult.

‘In this position the ball is on the line and he just touched the ball on the leg and then the arm. I understand the arm is a bit further from the body but also we cannot run with our arms glued to our bodies. So of course as a defender it’s very difficult and tricky.’


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