Fulham captain Tom Cairney was not happy with the decision to award Liverpool a match-winning penalty at Anfield last night.
Stuart Atwell pointed to the spot after Issa Diop brought down Reds forward Darwin Nunez in the box. Although it looked pretty cut and dry, it’s true that there was minimal contact. And speaking to fulhamfc.com after the game, Cairney suggested that the referee had admitted as much.
“I thought we played very well at times, but to lose to a penalty that wasn’t a penalty is always a kick in the you-know-what’s,” he said.
“At the time, I wasn’t sure [if it was a penalty]. The ref made a decision, I thought he’d seen contact. I asked him on the pitch, ‘please just make sure they check it.’
“He said they checked it, but he said second half to one of our players that it wasn’t a penalty, so it’s frustrating because it goes to other people to make the correct decision.”
No questions over Liverpool penalty call
This seems a bit dubious from Cairney. Why would the referee tell a Fulham player that his decision was incorrect having also had it verified by VAR at the time. That doesn’t make sense.
It’s also a little strange to be calling out a decision that was quite plain to see. There was minimal contact from Diop on Nunez, but the Uruguayan also nicked the ball from him and got in-front of him. Diop’s follow through was wild and he did halt Nunez’s path to the ball, whether he touched him or not.
Nevertheless, Cariney wasn’t the only one of a Fulham persuasion to be furious about the decision. Also speaking via fulhamfc.com after the game, his manager Marco Silva labelled the call as ’embarrassing.’
“Coming to half-time losing 1-0, the way they scored the goal, I have to say that it’s embarrassing,” said the coach. “To give the penalty like that, and after the VAR didn’t [change] that penalty, I cannot understand this, it’s difficult really to understand. It’s difficult, almost impossible to understand that penalty.”
Sorry, what? Were we watching the same incident? It may have been soft, but it was a clear penalty. There have been far worse decisions go against sides this season, arguably including the penalty Fulham were awarded against Liverpool on the opening match of the campaign.
Obviously, it’s a bitter pill to swallow for both Silva and Cairney. When they cool off though, they’ll surely see that this was not a controversial win for Liverpool. They may have been indebted to Alisson in part for the three points, but they shouldn’t extend any thanks towards the referee.