The latest edition of Ref Review looks at the penalty conceded by Emilio Izaguirre in Celtic’s Champions League defeat to Barcelona. A decision manager Brendan Rodgers disagreed with.
As Rodgers says, Luis Suarez was “clever” in his action. The Barcelona striker initiates the contact by deliberately positioning himself so he can back into Izaguirre. When the two come together, he then traps Izaguirre’s arm and pulls the Celtic defender with him as he goes for the through ball. However, despite what Brendan Rodgers says, it’s still a clear penalty.
Izaguirre doesn’t ignore Suarez. He readily engages with him. The reason Suarez is able to clamp down on his arm is because the Celtic defender places both of his hands on his opponent. There isn’t enough from either party to warrant a foul initially. What makes it a foul, and therefore a penalty, is Izaguirre’s attempt to get the ball.
If you watch the clip again, ignore the grappling and focus just on the player’s legs and you see how this became an easy decision for the officials. From the extra official’s angle, Izaguirre’s leg clearly goes across Suarez, doesn’t get the ball and the attacker hits the deck (Picture One).
The nearside linesman can see Izaguirre’s trailing leg coming up and basically trapping Suarez’s left foot as the Celtic defender goes to ground (main picture above). Also from this angle, it’s clear to see Suarez tries to stay on his feet after the first contact is made. It’s only when he’s trapped between Izaguirre’s legs that he’s forced down. He does throw his arms out a little theatrically, as he complains for a foul while simultaneously breaking his fall, but it’s not enough to disregard what’s occurred.
If Izaguirre stays on his feet, there isn’t enough to warrant a foul, but he doesn’t. He loses his composure and makes a desperate attempt to play the ball rather than stay with the attacker.
The referee took a two-second pause before pointing to the spot. Though he had a clear view when Suarez went down, there were a few players crossing his vision as the incident unfolded, and it’s more than likely the assistance of his linesman and the extra official played a part. Neither made an action to indicate this, but remember, they’re all mic’d up and can communicate without letting the wider world know.
• Craig Anderson is a former fully qualified referee. He is also the man behind SPLStats on Twitter.