Tuesday’s referees reviewed
Unfortunately most the disciplinary action and disputes took place off the pitch yesterday with some unpleasant scenes between Polish and Russian “fans.” Thankfully however the intense atmosphere did not spoil the game but had some refereeing decisions gone the other way, we could have seen two very different sets of results.
Yellow cards: Rosicky, Jiracek, Kolar (Czech Republic) Torosidis, Kyriakos, Papadopoulos, Salpingidis (Greece)
Red cards: 0
Referee: Stephane Lannoy (France)
This was a much improved performance from the French official following his first match overseeing Germany’s victory over Portugal. His foul detection was better and kept control over the players (unless you exclude the moment when he tripped and fell, matching even the most notorious player for diving).
Neither the Czech’s or Greece escaped the 90 minutes without throwing in some rather ugly challenges. Tomas Rosicky got the game’s first yellow with a high boot on Giorgios Karagounis which in all honesty was accidental, his studs accidentally knocking in the Greek’s skipper’s head on the way down.
The Greek physio used his expertise of medical science to spray water on the subsequent gash before the Greek team had a measure of revenge when Vassilas Torosidis went in cynically on Vaclav Pilar, treading on his foot and earning the matche’s second booking.
The players were not giving the refere much choice with tackles coming in. Goalscorer Petr Jiracek caught Giannis Maniatis after 35 minutes with a silly challenge that demanded a caution.
If Lannoy had a good game, his assistants were doing just as well. They spotted that Giorgos Fotakis was offside by a matter of inches when he headed just before half-time with his side 2-0 down.
Lannoy did unfairly book frontman Dimitris Salpingidis when he got most the ball in a fair challenge against David Limbersky and was penalised but sadly that may have more to do with an unwillingness of officials to tolerate feet first challenges on the ground rather than Lannoy’s poor vision.
Just prior to this Kyriakos Papadopoulos was also yellowed for taking down Milan Baros taking the card count to five.
Having pulled one back from Petr Cech’s mistake, the Greeks continued to push for an equaliser and were wrongly flagged offside on 72 minutes. With the clock ticking down, Lannoy punished Czech time wasting when Daniel Kolár was being subsituted. I think we need to see a little more of this as you can bet your bottom dollar that it will increasingly become a factor as we enter the final group games and begin the knock-out stages.
Overall Lannoy proved his credentials and while this was not a brilliant performance, he has put a marker down for the refereeing committee to consider give him another game.
Ref’s rating: 7/10
Yellow cards: Lewandowski, Polanski (Poland) Denisov, Dzagoev (Russia)
Red cards: 0
Referee: Wolfgang Stark (Germany)
This match required an experienced and confident official to take charge of a match played in a feverish and somewhat antagonistic atmosphere and Stark handled the occasion well.
Fortunately despite the trouble outside the stadium pre and post-match there were no reasons for him to suspend the game itself.
He turned down Alexander Kerzhakov’s appeals for a penalty early on correctly when replays confirmed a Polish defender got the ball cleanly. When the hosts attacked themselves, his assistants were sharp to rule out Eugen Polanski’s effort.
With Russia 1-0 up however, they had claims for a spot-kick when Alan Dzagoev was barged down in the box. It wasn’t exactly stonewall but the assistant strangely flagged against Dirk Advocaat’s team.
As tensions began to migrate onto the field, a small scuffle developed between Robert Lewandowski and Igor Denisov. But Stark nipped this in the bud by taking both their names into his book and there no further incidents of this nature.
This Stark’s strength – keep the game at arm’s length and give it a chance to breath but come in decisively when players contravene the rules. He showed his no-nonsense attitude when Dzagoev spoke out of turn following a foul given against him and was booked for dissent.
With the Poles pushing for what would have been a memorable winner, Polanski’s over enthusiastic challenge on Yuri Zhirkov ensured he didn’t escape the game without a yellow card and became the fourth and final player to be cautioned.
This was an excellent and subtle performance from Stark to prevent a potentially explosive encounter ever drifting into dangerous waters. By subtle I mean that he was able to influence the pace of the game to suit the scenario. He did need to rely on his assistants but they are as much responsible for good official’s performance as the official themselves.
It is not an understatement to say that Stark has put himself in contention for a final or semi-final game but time will tell if either of these opponents will make it to that stage too.
Ref’s rating: 9/10
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