Noel Whelan has claimed that VAR should have intervened following Sadio Mane’s aerial challenge on Chelsea defender, Cesar Azpilicueta.
The Senegalese attacker had jumped for a lofted ball, catching the Spaniard in the face with an errant arm.
“I don’t care if it’s six seconds in or 60 minutes in. It’s aggressive, it’s violent conduct, and it endangered Azpilicueta,” the former Leeds United star told Football Insider.
“It should’ve been dealt with straight away. In big games, sometimes you can get pumped up too much and I think that’s the case with Mane there.
“He’s gone up for the header, nowhere near the ball – it’s dangerous play, it’s a red card. I’m stunned by VAR, it has got to help the referee there.”
The moment had clearly lacked intention, though debate raged on Twitter over whether the act was serious enough to warrant a red card.
Whilst we can certainly appreciate that had it been the other way around similar questions would have been fielded over the nature of the challenge and whether it fell over into the realm of dangerous play, it would likewise seem unfair to dismiss a player for such a challenge.
Of course, it raises questions about the kind of damage such incidents can inflict and whether the extent of potential harm should be considered when judging the offence in question.
Ultimately, we’re happy that the game didn’t lose one of its best players and that the Blues centre-half escaped unharmed.