Monday’s referees reviewed
The final unplayed group was in action on Monday so we’ve definitely seen the tournament winners play. Not all the referees have been in action yet though and it was a chance for two officials to showcase themselves in some very closely fought contests.
Yellow cards: Oxlade-Chamberlain, Young (England)
Red cards: 0
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)
In this 1-1 stalemate, Rizzoli’s work was on the light side as England sat off and the majority of the game saw the ball pinged around in midfield between the two sides.
His foul detection was questionable – it felt more like he was blowing his whistle at scheduled intervals then making clear distinctions between clean physical play and law-breaking.
However it was admirable to see him trying to play as small a role as possible and certainly no one will be mentioning him in the newspaper’s the next day.
He has been criticised for not showing any bookings to French players but there were perhaps only or two comparable tackles to base on that standpoint.
The two yellows came either side of the break with youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain over exuberantly (and rather clumsily) going in late on pacey French wingback Mathieu Debuchy to earn a booking.
The other came when Ashley Young had a similarly delayed dive at Karim Benzema and Rizzoli rightly took his name.
The discussion point about Rizzoli is whether you like his style. Most neutrals would rather than an official miss a few fouls here and there but let the game flow and the players do the talking.
However I fear if he had’ve to make some big decisions today such as penalty calls, red cards or disputed goals, Rizzoli may have made a mistake.
That said, I can only judge on the performance in the game that happened so there is little to complain about.
Ref’s rating: 7/10
Yellow cards: Kallstrom, Elm (Sweden)
Red cards: 0
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey)
Cakir is the youngest official at these finals and even the junior of veteran and national hero Andriy Shevcheko who entered the headlines for all the right reasons last night.
However despite Cakir’s age he has been refereeing in senior UEFA tournaments for four years and pretty much proved himself on the field during this game for his relaxed yet authoritative presence which takes some doing when dealing with the enigma of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. And more seriously with a fervent atmosphere and two teams who did seem nervous and unsettled for parts of the game.
Returning to Sweden’s talisman, the biggest talking point (certainly had Ukraine failed to win) would have been his opening goal to give the Scandinavian’s the lead.
The actual challenge on Yevgen Selin by Mikael Lustig is not a foul and even though Selin stays down, the referee is not obligated to stop play. Officials must suspend the game if they feel there is a head or other serious injury but this did not appear to be the case.
In terms of a sportsmanship, some may argue Sweden should kick the ball out of play but others may say that there is a possibility Selin is play-acting and why should we let him prosper?
Either way, it is the official’s job to simply let the move go on and allow any entry of physios or Selin to leave the field once the ball is out of play.
The assist for Ibrahimovic’s goal came from Kim Kallstrom who also received the game’s first booking for a cynical challenge on Oleg Gusev to stop a counter-attack from the hosts.
Cakir did perhaps begin the second-half by being overly interfering with his whistle but beyond that he was flawless. As the game became stretched near the end Swedish youth Rasmus Elm was cautioned seven minutes from time for a silly tackle on Andrey Voronin when his side were chasing the game.
It’s true that he did penalise Erik Hamren’s side for more fouls but that was mainly a reflection of the play itself. He also played particular close attention to the added time, most of which was eaten up early on by a subsitution and an alleged Ukrainian injury; so the official sensibly extended it.
Overall it was an impressive performance from Cakir who I’m sure we’ll see again.
Ref’s rating: 8/10
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