England VAR farce as North Macedonia given laughable penalty for Rico Lewis incident | Football | Sport
Referee Filip Glova overruled Rico Lewis’ England debut on Tuesday night by awarding the Manchester City defender a controversial penalty. As he leaped to reach a long ball, the star goalkeeper from North Macedonia took a bumpy hand, prompting VAR to intervene and a request for the incident to be reviewed by a pitch-side monitor.
Lewis made a late call-up to Gareth Southgate’s squad during the international break, after a number of players were ruled out through injury which prompted a number of chances for the first-named side. The versatile teenager has shone under Pep Guardiola this season and his presence in the first team has been a little overdue, being deployed as a defender and also as a midfielder.
Southgate then gave the 18-year-old the chance to shine on the international stage at the Tose Proeski Arena when the Three Lions took on North Macedonia, at left-back.
Lewis was in fine form during the opening stages of the Group C tie of the EURO qualifiers but was unfortunately ended by an incredible refereeing decision which saw North Macedonia awarded a penalty. After sending a long ball forward, the starter tried to clear a long ball forward.
The full-back managed to clear the ball out of harm’s way, but a shock VAR review alerted referee Glova to a bit of contact between Lewis and Bojan Miovski. The City star clipped the striker in the face with the palm of his hand as he used his arms to push through the air and hit the ball.
After a review on the side of the pitch, the referee called attention to the spot – with Lewis receiving a yellow card for the foul.
Speaking to Channel 4 about the incident, former City defender Joleon Lescott said: “Very tough. Very hard done by. He does not know that the person is coming forward. It’s in the air and it’s the palm of his hand, not his elbow. Yes, there is contact but there is no way it can be given as a punishment for me. I feel for him – he was one of the consistent performers in the first half. It’s unfortunate that he went against it.”
Former Chelsea player Joe Cole said: “It’s absurd. The ref saw it in real time and you know the guy is joking, watch the guy roll around on the floor. You’re going to send people running into hands and elbows in the box now. The ref – we’ve got one. He wants to be the star of the show. Pickford does very well to get his hands on it but the rebound falls and he can’t miss from there. I feel for Rico Lewis because he was very good on his first time in England.”
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