Frank Lampard, Derby boss, described the decision of referee Craig Pawson to overturn a penalty awarded to his side in their playoff defeat against Leeds as ‘like human VAR’.
After the play-off semi-final first leg between Derby County and Leeds United, this is an advantage to Marcelo Bielsa’s men. With a goal from Kemar Roofe enough to secure the win, Leeds came away from Pride Park with a 1-0 advantage.
Inside the final 15 minutes of the match, under the challenge of winger Jack Harrison, Rams full-back Jayden Bogle went to ground, with Craig Pawson immediately pointing to the spot. However, amid Leeds’ incensed appeals, after consulting with linesman Eddie Smart Pawson overturned his decision and instead awarded a free-kick in favor of Marcelo Bielsa’s men.
It was a moment which could have quite clearly changed the result of the game. Speaking to Sky Sports after the final whistle at Pride Park, Frank Lampard aired his frustrations at the conclusion of the officials.
He said: “I’m not sure if it’s a penalty – I think it’s one of those you can get or not get. The referee gave it, but the linesman has decided it was clear enough to not be a penalty. It’s like human VAR, but with the actual VAR, the only way they turn decisions, as you hear from the rules, is if it’s a clear and obvious challenge. It wasn’t – I can’t understand it.”
“I’m not standing here and saying it was a clear penalty; I’ve looked at it and it’s probably right in the middle. Bogle has got his leg across, there’s not huge contact, but enough that he’s in front of him before he gets there.”
“But for the linesman to decide by himself and for the referee to accept that decision, making him completely wrong, is really difficult to understand. The linesman will say he thought it wasn’t [clear], but the referee gave it, so work that one out.”
The Rams didn’t succeed in registering a shot on target throughout the 90 minutes. Naturally, Lampard felt there was room for improvement ahead of the second leg on Wednesday, which is live on Sky Sports Football.
He added: “I don’t think we did enough. I thought, in the early parts of the game, we were good, created a couple of chances and we were positive. When I spoke before the game, I said that Leeds were favorites because of where they are in the league and because they are experienced.”
“Their team has been building for a few years, they have players that have been here in this league for years and, for the majority of our players, it’s their first proper season in this league.”