Football

Dalbert handball decision in Chelsea-Rennes game comes under fire

Rennes coach Stephan, Ferdinand and Cole frustrated by Dalbert's dismissal

The referee came under the spotlight in Chelsea's 3-0 Champions League Group E victory over Rennes at Stamford Bridge yesterday morning (Singapore time).

With the game finely poised at 1-0, the Blues were awarded a penalty when Tammy Abraham's shot ricocheted off Dalbert's foot and hit his arm.

After viewing the pitchside monitor, referee Felix Zwayer not only awarded Chelsea a spot-kick, but also gave Dalbert his second yellow, which left Rennes facing the final 50 minutes with 10 men.

Dalbert had also conceded an earlier penalty that led to Chelsea's first goal. Both spot-kicks were converted by Timo Werner, with Abraham wrapping up the tie five minutes into the second half.

Said Rennes coach Julian Stephan: "Unless the rule has changed and we weren't aware, I don't know why he decided to give handball for this.

"When you give a second yellow for this kind of thing, it kills the game...

"Why do we check that and not the handball from (Kurt) Zouma? There's some misunderstanding but I don't want to go into conspiracy-theory thinking.

"It was a turning point in the game. It makes it difficult against a team like Chelsea, who have good players in every position, with the numerical disadvantage.

"My players were remarkable in the last 20 minutes to put pressure and try to score a goal. I'm disappointed for them."

Ex-English Premier League and Fifa referee Peter Walton said that while the decision was harsh, Zwayer made the right call based on the letter of the law.

He said on BT Sport: "First of all, the penalty does seem harsh. But the interpretation of the Uefa rule - like we've seen in previous matches - if it strikes the arm, it's going to be given as a penalty kick.

"Personally, I don't think it was. However, that's the interpretation. As regards to a second yellow card, because he's deemed to be stopping a promising attack in terms of the handball offence, because he deemed it to be an offence, then it's a yellow card.

"He's gone off, and he can count himself unlucky, but that's the law."

Former England internationals Rio Ferdinand and Joe Cole were incredulous at the decision.

Ex-Manchester United centre-back Ferdinand said on BT Sport: "This is an absolute disgrace. The kid doesn't intentionally block the ball with his hands.

"The referee goes over to the screen, deliberates and still gives it. It baffles me. It's a joke.

"He ruined the game for me. I was absolutely flabbergasted.

"All these rules are getting changed completely every year.

"The game was great before any of this came in. Why change something that was already great? We're adding new, different rules that almost certainly create grey areas."

Cole, meanwhile, added: "How are you going to coach young defenders where to put your arms where you're trying to defend because if you're doing your job properly, you need to be athletic and stop the ball. Where are your arms supposed to go?

"It's almost like Fifa and Uefa are trying to self-destruct."

The Blues are top of the group on seven points after three matches, ahead of Sevilla on goal difference. The Spanish side came back from two goals and a man down to beat Krasnodar 3-2.

Football