Gary Neville has expressed his displeasure with the decision to give Argentina an early penalty in their World Cup semi-final match against Croatia. The incident that led to the penalty was when Dominic Livakovic tripped Julian Alvarez, and Neville argues that the goalkeeper could not have done much more to prevent the play.
Lionel Messi converted the penalty kick to give Argentina an early lead in the decisive match. This came about because Croatia’s Livakovic had come storming forwards with Alvarez in the clear, only to crash the forward as he sought to run around him. Messi’s goal gave Argentina the lead.
When Livakovic failed to retrieve the ball and instead took out the man, the referee, Daniele Orsato, did not hesitate to signal to the penalty spot and give Argentina the early lead.
However, other people think that the judgement was too harsh because Alvarez raised the ball over the goalkeeper when he was trying to block it. This is the viewpoint that pundit Neville held.
ITV reported that he said, “I didn’t think that was a penalty.” “The keeper walks out, and as he is walking toward the door, Alvarez runs into him.” What else can you do?
After reviewing the footage of the event, his colleagues experts, Roy Keane and Ian Wright, came to the same conclusion.
Former Arsenal player Wright made the following comment about the play: “The center-forward has miskicked it, because if he kicks it, it goes into the goal, and the keeper can’t do anything else except hold his ground.” It wasn’t a violation of the rules at all.’
Keane also commented, saying, “Poor defense all around, but I don’t think it’s a penalty.”
But inside the studio of BBC Five Live, Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer was certain that the judgement that had been made was correct, stating that it was an obvious penalty.
Shearer remarked that Alvarez had an incredible run, and that he now finds himself in the clear. It is completely open for him to take. The ball goes over the goalkeeper, and Livakovic trips him as he tries to run after it. It seemed like the best course of action to me at the time.
Former England goalkeeper Rob Green – also on commentary duty for the station, was in agreement – saying the referee was left with little choice.
The referee had no choice but to award the point as soon as Livakovic committed. After Alvarez gives him that nick, Livakovic is aware that he has not won possession of the ball. It was an obvious contact, and there wasn’t much he could do about it.
“Messi scored a fantastic penalty, very much in the Shearer mold.” It was the same side that we saw him go against the Netherlands, but he went much higher than we saw him go there.
“As soon as you commit to the dive as a goalkeeper, you can’t get up, and you can’t get high,” he said. “From that, you can tell.” You run the risk of it going over the bar but if you get it right, unstoppable.’
Commentators Ally McCoist and Lee Dixon also believed it was a penalty – as the former made the point that it would be a foul anywhere else on the pitch.
‘My initial reaction was that it was a penalty, and having seen the replays I’m convinced it’s a penalty. To tell you the truth, I don’t understand why they don’t think it should be a penalty, since if it happened anyplace else on the field, it would definitely be a free kick.
‘What the goalkeeper does, it prevents Alvarez from being through on goal, so I think the referee has got it spot on, I really do.’
Dixon added: ‘I can’t understand it all, obviously everyone has a different opinion, the fact that he’s just standing there and he runs into him, that’s not because he’s challenging for the ball.’
And former referee Peter Walton – who often gives his expert opinion from a TV studio – backed the referee and said Livakovic failed to get the ball.
When asked what else the keeper could do, he replied: ‘Well win the ball, if he’s challenging for the ball and misses it completely and catches the player, he’s impeded his progress and it has to be the foul.
‘If its an outfield player its aways a foul, with the goalkeeper it has to be the same thing. He needs to make sure he gets some contact on the ball, or he’s impeded the progress of the player. His forward motion has meant a collision happens, it may seem harsh but that is a foul.’