Marcel Sabitzer avoided a red card because VAR officials didn’t feel the Manchester United star’s tackle was made with huge force or momentum.
Sabitzer signed for United in January and has quickly made his presence felt in Erik ten Hag’s midfield. His arrival has been timely after Casemiro was handed a three-match ban following a bust-up vs Crystal Palace.
The Brazilian midfielder was serving the last game of his suspension as United took on Leicester City, with Sabitzer partnering Fred.
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But Sabitzer was very fortunate to escape a suspension of his own after a bad tackle on Foxes defender Wout Faes.
The incident occurred in the final minutes of a first half which had seen the Red Devils take the lead through Marcus Rashford. But, a positive 45 minutes would have been undermined had referee Stuart Attwell reached for his red card.
That was the outcome Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness felt should have taken place, claiming the Manchester United midfielder went out to “do” his opponent.
“For a start he’s partly to blame because he’s on his heels, Faes, when this ball break from him not being alive to it, but that, Sabitzer has turned side-on to him, and that’s a classic case of if you’re going to go and do someone, that’s how you do it.
“You turn side-on. If he makes contact with the ball, what’s he going to do with the ball? He’s looking at the player.”
Attwell’s decision was backed up by VAR Paul Tierney, with the current laws meaning a yellow card couldn’t be awarded. Souness slammed the officials, claiming it was a decision no professional football player would agree with.
He added: “I don’t care what some referee who’s never played the game has to say on that, that is a sending off. If that’s not dangerous play, what is? Ask any professional footballer, he’s turned side-on, that’s a classic case of setting yourself up to do someone.”
Fellow pundit Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink said: “I’ve seen them be given. No offence whatsoever, but I’ve seen them be given. I was definitely surprised when it was not yellow at least, so I can understand where Mr Souness is coming from.”
Anchor Dave Jones confirmed that the reason behind the lack of a red card was that Sabitzer’s challenge was not deemed to have sufficient momentum or force to warrant dismissal.
United legend Gary Neville agreed with the explained and said: “I didn’t think it was a red. I thought he withdrew very quickly and didn’t follow through with the force required.”