By Keith Hackett

19th Sep, 2022 | 1:37pm

Ex-Fifa official issues emphatic James Sands verdict as Rangers controversy analysed

Keith Hackett has claimed referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz had “no alternative” but to send off Rangers defender James Sands against Napoli.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Fifa and Premier League official claimed the decision was “right” as much as it was “harsh” on the 22-year-old.

The Gers lost 3-0 to Napoli in the Champions League last Wednesday (14 September).

Sands was shown a red card for a second bookable offence after bringing down Giovanni Simeone inside the 18-yard box.

Referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz adjudged the Rangers centre-back to have tripped the Napoli forward and VAR did not deem there to have been a clear and obvious error.

Allan McGregor saved the resulting penalty but it ultimately did not matter with the visitors collecting all three points.

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When asked by Football Insider‘s Connor Whitley if the officials were right to award a penalty and send off Sands at Ibrox, Hackett said: “This guy is regarded as one of Europe’s top referees.

“I think the referee has given a yellow card because the challenge is seen to be stopping a promising attack. It is a cautionable offence under the law.

“The referee is left with no alternative but to give a second yellow for that challenge. It is a deliberate trip.

“I think the referee is right on this occasion as much as it is harsh on Sands.”

In other news, a pundit has told Rangers to U-turn on their pursuit of Gary Cahill after transfer update from journalist.