Real Madrid star “very lucky” not to be sent off against Manchester City, says ex-Premier League referee Mark Halsey

After a relatively quiet game between Liverpool and Villarreal, at least in terms of refereeing incidents, we were treated to a bit more of an explosive clash between Manchester City and Real Madrid at the Bernabeu last night.

There were almost too many strong challenges to keep track of, but I think Casemiro was certainly very lucky to stay on the pitch after committing two clear-cut yellow card offenses in the first half of the game.

The Real Madrid midfielder produced a poor and reckless challenge on Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne.

It was Italian referee Daniele Orsato’s chance to stamp his authority on the game early on, but he didn’t.

I think that was the wrong call, and it later led to a bust-up between Luka Modric and Aymeric Laporte with Vinicius Jnr grabbing the City defender by the throat.

Orsato cautioned both aggressor Modric and retaliator Laporte for his slap on the Croatian playmaker and I felt that it was the correct outcome.

Yet Casemiro should have received another yellow card when he pulled back Phil Foden. It was another nailed on caution for the Brazilian but Orsato set his tolerance level too low.

I can understand that it would be frustrating for Pep Guardiola and his players, but City can have no complaints regarding the penalty awarded in the first half of extra time.

City seemed to lose their heads towards the end of normal time and the start of extra time, and that was a clear foul on Karim Benzema, who made no mistake from the spot. 43 goals in 43 games now for the Frenchman – what a season he’s having!

In terms of complaints about the time added on at the end, you probably could say the referee hasn’t played the full quota. I think what we probably need to look at in football is an independent time keeper and take it out of the referee’s hands.

I think it’s a fair criticism to make of the referee, with Real Madrid players and their antics of going down, staying down, wasting time. He hasn’t played the full allotted time, but he’s the sole judge of time keeping, so I’d prefer us to move to an independent time keeper like we see in rugby.

So overall that maybe wasn’t the best performance we’ve seen from a Champions League referee this season, where the standards are normally very high. I was impressed, however, with the officiating in Liverpool’s win over Villarreal on Tuesday evening.

I watched that game and I thought the referee did well. Danny Makkelie is a very experienced referee, very respected at that level. You can look at some decisions throughout the game, the odd free-kick that’s given or not given here and there, but it’s subjective. Teams will often feel those little decisions have gone against them when they’ve lost the game in that manner.

As far as Villarreal’s penalty shout is concerned, I think if anything the player has jumped into Liverpool’ keeper Alisson.

VAR checked it and if it had been a clear and obvious error, then they’ve recommended a review.

Personally I think the referee did well, Villarreal may have felt hard done by, but both the on-pitch official and VAR didn’t see any error. I also don’t think it was a penalty and Makkelie handled the game well.

Looking back at the Premier League action from last weekend, we saw the best and worst of players in terms of their behavior in matches.

I was very impressed with West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen for his honesty after a challenge from Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

Bowen was quick to tell the referee that Ramsdale hadn’t made contact with him, and his honesty earned him a yellow card for simulation!

You could say Ramsdale maybe came out in a reckless manner, but Bowen’s also taken his leg out of the way, taking evasive action. In that situation, you can still give a free-kick to Jarrod Bowen.

I’m not sure Mike Dean needed to book the Hammers forward, it probably could’ve been handled better by the referee, but fair play to Jarrod Bowen for getting up and saying there wasn’t any contact.

Having said that, looking at it at a different angle, you could argue that Wet Ham deserved a free-kick because Bowen felt he needed to take evasive action. It’s subjective and Mike Dean saw it that way because of Bowen’s honesty about him.

By contrast, things got a little out of hand between Everton and Chelsea in a tense encounter at Goodison Park, and I wasn’t too impressed by the behavior of some players.

It was a cracking game, full of tension and incidents, but it’s another one where, as a referee in these kinds of games, you’ve got to set your tolerance levels. If you set them too low you could end up with a lot of cautions and red cards.

Some of the players were acting like children at times. It annoyed me seeing Seamus Coleman getting involved as a few other players clashed, there’s no need, let the referee do his job and calm things down.

These games can be tense and it’s important for the referee to keep his head while everyone else around them loses theirs. He could maybe do with slowing the tempo down, slowing things down when it comes to free-kicks and just making sure everyone keeps their heads.

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