By Keith Hackett

16th Aug, 2021 | 6:00pm

Ex-Premier League ref: Mike Dean took 'huge risk' in Aston Villa clash v Watford

Mike Dean took a “huge risk” with his decision to play advantage before Watford’s third goal against Aston Villa on Saturday.

So says ex-Premier League referee Keith Hackett, speaking exclusively to Football Insider after Watford’s 3-2 win at Vicarage Road.

Watford’s Juraj Kucka was racing through the midfield with the score at 2-0 before he was felled by Marvelous Nakamba.

But Dean played advantage as Cucho Hernandez took the ball in his stride, jagged inside the full-back and curled a right-footed shot into the Villa net.

Hackett was just as impressed by the referee’s decision to play advantage as he was by Hernandez’ laser-guided strike.

“I can tell you, it was brilliant,” he told Football Insider correspondent Adam Williams.

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“Mike Dean is a top-class referee. I put him in the top four of referees in England.

“He takes some criticism because he has a bit of a personality. But he understands the game, understands players.

“His heart is in the right place and he reads the game a well as a player because of his experience.

“He’s unselfish because when you play an advantage, you’re taking a huge risk. This was the play of the weekend, in my view.

“It was a brilliant decision. He’s one of the best referees that we have got in terms of the application of the advantage.

“He can take a huge gamble with them sometimes. But you do have to take these risks sometimes and he is one of the best at it.”

In other news, Aston Villa rising star undergoing medical with EFL club after agreement reached.