Stephen Craigan was left baffled by the penalty that Royal Antwerp were awarded in the first half against Rangers in the Europa League on Thursday night.
Steven Davis made the lightest of contact with Lior Refaelov’s ankle inside the penalty area before a split-second delay and a theatrical dive to the floor by the Antwerp player, who dusted himself down and scored the resulting spot-kick.
VAR checked over the incident and decided there was no clear and obvious error, while the penalty was also awarded well after the allotted stoppage-time at the end of the first half.
Ex-Motherwell and Northern Ireland defender Craigan could not understand how the referee or the VAR could see Davis’ challenge as a foul.
“I mean, that is minimal contact at best. This will go to VAR. A little tap on the ankle [does not warrant that reaction]. That is an exaggeration. It’s an incredible penalty kick,” Craigan said during commentary on BT Sport 3 just after the incident.
After the penalty was scored, Craigan added: “It’s a well-taken penalty but it shouldn’t be a penalty in the first instance. I think the referee’s decided he’s just playing the game as a [one half]. He’s going to play all 90 minutes just straight up.
“Allan McGregor goes the right way but it’s a blow for Rangers, no doubt about it. There was minimal contact, VAR’s had a look and I’m astonished they haven’t overturned it.”
Never ever a penalty
Referees make their job way harder than it needs to be.
We don’t want to continue piling in on officials but the reason why players throw themselves to ground like that is that it’s now become acceptable.
Refaelov dived. There is no doubt about that. However, because Davis made a tiny bit of contact with his ankle, it means that it was a foul. If Refaelov stayed on his feet, would it be a foul? No, it wouldn’t.
Referees and VAR need to apply some common sense to situations like this because it’s clear simulation from the Antwerp player.
We found it funny how he managed to fling himself to the ground from the faintest of taps but those laughs soon disappeared when we realised VAR wasn’t going to tell the referee to check the pitchside monitor.
It wasn’t a penalty. It’s as simple as that and this is why adding VAR to the Scottish game would be a bad idea because referees are struggling enough as it is. We’ve seen south of the border how it just makes their job tougher.
In other Rangers news, one Gers rulebreaker has shared a phone call he had with Gerrard.