Kyle Walker lucky to avoid sending-off: Pundits, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Kyle Walker lucky to avoid sending-off: Pundits

Man City right-back appeared to head-butt Brighton's Jahanbakhsh

Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton and several football pundits believe that Kyle Walker was lucky not to see red during Manchester City's 1-0 win over the Seagulls yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The Citizens kept their Quadruple hopes alive by winning the FA Cup semi-final clash at Wembley, thanks to Gabriel Jesus' fourth-minute goal.

But the match was not without controversy as the Seagulls were left to rue a controversial decision not to send off Walker just after the half-hour mark for an apparent head-butt on Alireza Jahanbakhsh.

Right-back Walker appeared to move his head into Jahanbakhsh's forehead as the players squared up face to face after the former was shoved in the back.

The incident went to the video assistant referee (VAR), which is being used in the FA Cup, but referee Anthony Taylor was not required to send Walker off.

City manager Pep Guardiola replaced Walker with Danilo at half-time, claiming that the England defender has a suspected hamstring injury.

His opposite number Hughton insisted that Walker should have been sent off.

He said: "In my opinion, it was a red card. We ask players to be honest and Alireza doesn't make a big meal of it. In the past, players would have gone on clutching their head or rolling on the floor.

"I've looked back at it three or four times and there have been numerous occasions when that would have got someone a red card. There was sufficient force to warrant that."

BBC pundits Martin Keown, Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, Jermaine Jenas and Yaya Toure agreed with him.

Said former England defender Keown on BBC radio: "You can see he's incensed because he's been trodden on, but he just needs to be calm.

"He flicks his head. When you see it in real speed, he should be sent off. When you see the slo-mo, which was probably for the VAR, he gets away with it."

In BBC's Match of the Day studios, the sentiment was largely similar.

Shearer agreed with Hughton's assessment that Jahanbakhsh's lack of theatrics saved Walker.

The EPL's all-time top scorer said: "He's fortunate that he doesn't go down. I think he's very, very lucky not to get a red card."

Lineker and Toure agreed, but Jenas pointed out that the Iranian was "was out of order in the first place".

"It was close and any other referee could have quite possibly given him a straight red card," said the former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder.

"I think Jahanbakhsh was out of order in the first place. There was no need for that.

"The ball was going out of play and he forced Kyle over and I think he stands on the back of his leg as well, which Kyle obviously gets really annoyed by.

"There is a movement, but I think they come head to head anyway. Kyle will have been very worried as the VAR was checking it."

Meanwhile, Guardiola insisted collecting a Quadruple of trophies is still "almost impossible".

City have lifted the League Cup, are in the quarter-finals of Champions League and are two points behind English Premier League leaders Liverpool, albeit with a game in hand.

Said Guardiola: "It is almost impossible to win the Quadruple. Surviving in this stage of the competitions is already a miracle."