Ex-Premier League referee Keith Hackett has claimed it was the right decision to allow Brighton striker Neal Maupay to go unpunished for a challenge that left Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno injured on Saturday afternoon.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the 1981 FA Cup Final official suggested that there was no malice involved in the collision that left the German stopper unable to continue in the Seagulls’ 2-1 win.
Shortly before half time, Maupay jumped to contest a ball that Leno had seemingly already gathered, with the Gunner landing awkwardly on his way back down.
As he was stretchered off the field, Leno confronted the French forward, gesturing towards him and berating him angrily.
Maupay would go on to score Brighton’s winner in the 95th minute.
But Hackett has stood by referee Martin Atkinson for not punishing the 23-year-old.
Speaking to Football Insider, he said: “I thought the referee got it right – it’s a judgement call.
“Look, I’m seeing goalkeepers now regularly coming out blood and thunder to wipe out the forward, and we had one recently where Ederson wiped out his own player. He came out full-force and was saying ‘I’m going to get the ball and if I fail to get the ball I’m going to get the man’.
“I think that’s a very dangerous approach that seems to be growing trend. Here, it was a touch.
“Look, football is a contact game, I don’t there was any malice from the forward. Yes, he was a touch late and worthy of perhaps a word, but nothing else.
“Ultimately, at the end of the day when a player is injured, he’s looking around at who to blame and I think that’s what he did.”
There has been no concrete indication yet on the severity of Leno’s injury, or how long he is expected to be sidelined for.
Following the match, Arsenal back-up goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez admitted that he did not believe Maupay had deliberately intended to injure Leno.
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