The earth-shattering moment on Tuesday night came not from the dancing feet of Lionel Messi but from ITV’s referee cupboard, as we found ourselves agreeing with Peter Walton.
The ex-referee turned ‘refereeing expert’ took down punditry titans Gary Neville, Ian Wright and Roy Keane, who appeared to have been passing hallucinogens around their studio during the first half of Argentina’s 3-0 win over Croatia.
At half-time, with Argentina two goals up through a Lionel Messi penalty and the worst best goal ever from Julian Alvarez, all three of the pundits were baffled by the awarding of the blatant penalty.
Alvarez, through on goal, poked the ball past Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic, who took out the Manchester City striker.
On the incident, Neville said: “We’re right above it here, this angle is a little further away but the keeper comes out, he basically just makes a movement to his right, stops himself before the actual shot is about to be taken and Alvarez just runs into him and takes his leg away.
“This is not a penalty. What else can he do? He has to make that motion to try and save the ball, he plants his feet. If he’d carried on running out and taken out Alvarez then fair enough, but he stops before it and I don’t know if that’s a penalty.”
Wright agreed, adding: “When you look at it, the centre forward, he’s actually miskicked it to be honest. If he hits it and it goes into the goal, the goalkeeper can’t do anything like you say, he’s stopped.
“Alvarez miskicks it, it’s not going into the goal, the goalkeeper can’t do anything else but stand his ground and he runs into him. The referee didn’t have a look, I can’t understand it.”
Keane then jumped aboard the batty bandwagon, saying: “Poor defending overall to let him get a run in on goal, but I agree with the lads I don’t think it’s a penalty, where else are you supposed to go?”
Asked by Mark Pougatch what the goalkeeper was supposed to do, clearly perplexed by the pundits’ view, Walton replied like the great deadpan comic he is: “Well win the ball firstly.
“He’s challenging for the ball and misses the ball completely, then catches the player, in fact what he’s done there is get in the path of that forward and he’s impeded his progress, so it has to be a foul.
“I can understand in terms of asking where else can he go, but in parallel to that you think of an outfield player who slides in to make a challenge, reaches the ball but catches the man, it’s always a foul. Fast forward to the goalkeeper, he’s done exactly the same.”