'It's excessive' - former Premier League ref delivers verdict on three key incidents in Leeds United's win at Manchester City

Leeds United's win over Manchester City saw a number of incidents at the Etihad stadium.

Monday, 12th April 2021, 1:14 pm
Updated Monday, 12th April 2021, 1:16 pm
Leeds United captain Liam Cooper is sent off after a VAR review at Manchester City. Pic: Getty

Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher has backed the decision to send Liam Cooper off against Manchester City.

Leeds United's last-gasp 2-1 top flight victory at the Etihad stadium was full of controversy on Saturday afternoon with the Whites seeing their club captain handed his marching orders.

Stuart Dallas scored twice to claim an unlikely three points for Leeds, who played the whole second half with 10 men following Cooper's dismissal.

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United's club captain was handed a red card for a challenge on Gabriel Jesus in first half stoppage time after match official Andre Marriner initially deemed the tackle worthy of a yellow.

Cooper won the ball but caught the City forward high during his follow through and VAR intervened to upgrade the card shown to red.

Dallas had put Marcelo Bielsa's men ahead just minutes before the incident but it took Pep Guardiola's hosts until 14 minutes from time to level through winger Ferran Torres.

The Northern Irishman then struck in the 91st minute to spark wild celebrations after an impressive defensive display from Leeds against the champions-elect.

Supporters were left questioning referee consistency post-match in the wake of Cooper's red, having seen Sheffield United's George Baldock receive no sanction for a similar challenge on Whites forward Tyler Roberts a week prior.

"When [Liam] Cooper goes to play the ball he knows exactly where [Gabriel] Jesus is," Gallagher told Sky Sports' ref watch.

"His point of contact is very, very high with the studs leading. It's excessive force. It's not only one foot that connects but his other foot comes through.

"You look at every incident on its own merits. I looked at [the George Baldock incident] last week and said it should've been sanctioned.

"I look at the one with Cooper on Saturday. I think that should be sanctioned - the referee has got it right."

Leeds fans were also left annoyed by the lack of review for a Raheem Sterling challenge on Raphinha in the first half and another late on by City midfielder Fernandinho.

The England man arrived late and caught his fellow wide man on the leg with his studs but no action was taken by Marriner or VAR.

"There's lots of differences," Gallagher added.

"You see the point of contact and his foot is low. He's caught him on the foot there is no doubt about that. With Cooper what you have to remember is that he is well off the ground.

"He's going at force through the air - Sterling isn't. That's what you have to be mindful of - how high the boots are, where the point of contact is and the speed that they arrive at."

Asked about the incident where Fernandinho - who received a yellow card - took out Raphinha on halfway with no attempt to play the ball in added time, Gallagher added: "I think it is deemed reckless, what I would say is that it is completely cynical - he knows exactly what he's going to do.

"I think lots of people would say he should be sent off for that but unfortunately the law doesn't allow that.

"The law has to say is it careless? No. Is it reckless? I think, yes. Is it seriously endangering the opponent? I think, no. I don't think it meets the threshold.

"On that basis the referee's only other choice is whether it is a DGO zone [direct goal scoring opportunity]. There's a covering player so on that basis the referee has to default to a yellow card."