Viewers of the clash between Crystal Palace and Liverpool have taken to social media in their droves this afternoon to query a major second-half decision on the part of referee Neil Swarbrick.
The two sides are currently locked in action in a Premier League meeting at Selhurst Park, with hosts Palace desperate for all 3 points to put further space between themselves and the English top-flight’s relegation zone.
Heading into today, the Eagles sat two places and two points clear of 18th-placed Southampton, with Roy Hodgson’s men having picked up a morale-boosting 2-0 win away to Huddersfield in their last outing.
Liverpool, meanwhile, were looking to leapfrog Manchester United into 2nd-place in the Premier League table, with the Reds having dispatched of Watford by 5 goals to nil last time out.
The big talking point for visitors Liverpool ahead of kick-off was the return of Nathaniel Clyne to the club’s matchday squad, though Emre Can and Joe Gomez both missed out after picking up injuries during the international break.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) March 31, 2018
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) March 31, 2018
This meant that there were starts for James Milner and Trent Alexander-Arnold, the latter of whom came in for heavy criticism during the early goings this afternoon.
After getting lucky after being caught out by a darting inside run from Wilfried Zaha within the opening ten minutes, Alexander-Arnold failed to learn his lesson, with the English stopper once again losing track of Zaha following a flick-on from Christian Benteke with 12 minutes on the clock, leading to Loris Karius fouling the blistering wide-man in the box and handing an early spot-kick opportunity to Palace.
Luka Milivojević stepped up and smashed home the resulting penalty with aplomb, sending Karius the wrong way to give the hosts a deserved lead.
The early proceedings following the interval saw Liverpool take to the pitch with a renewed vigour, as the likes of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah began to grow into the game.
And the Reds were rewarded for their dominance in the 49th-minute, as a flowing move saw James Milner turn Aaron Wan-Bissaka inside out, before his driven cross was turned home by Sadio Mane.
However, there was major controversy surrounding Mane 15 minutes later, after the Senegalese winger somehow managed to escape a second yellow, having been booked for diving in the first-half.
Having gone to ground after feeling as though he had been fouled by Andros Townsend (which he probably had), Mane grabbed hold of the ball on the edge of the Palace box, despite having not been awarded a free-kick.
This led to referee Neil Swarbrick awarding a free-kick to Palace, but, bafflingly, failing to hand Mane his second booking following the most blatant hand-ball imaginable.
Viewers couldn’t quite believe their eyes, with the best of the Twitter roundup below:
Trying to figure out how Mané is still on the pitch after a deliberate handball… pic.twitter.com/7HbcIxp6a1
— ODDSbible (@ODDSbible) March 31, 2018
My word, this ref. Mané is clearly fouled there, not given. Then gives a free kick for Mané’s deliberate hand ball and still doesn’t give him a second booking. Baffling.
— Joel Rabinowitz (@joel_archie) March 31, 2018
How has Mane not been sent off there 😂😂
— Matt Craig (@MattHDGamer) March 31, 2018
Mane somehow not sent off lool
— َ (@HazardEdition) March 31, 2018
Mane’s clearly fouled there, however if the referee deems there to be no foul then difficult to understand how the deliberate handball isn’t a yellow. Just a catalogue of officiating errors in that play.
— Chris Winterburn (@cmwinterburn) March 31, 2018
If that’s a foul, it’s a yellow card. Referee is too incompetent to even follow through on his own wrong decision. Mané should be off here!
— Anton (@Antonstotle) March 31, 2018
Mane falls to the floor on a yellow card, picks the ball up and doesn’t get a second yellow 😂
How is Mane still on the pitch?
— Football Super Tips (@FootySuperTips) March 31, 2018
Why the fuck isn’t that a red card for Mane ? Abysmal refereeing yet again.Some people were wondering why there’s no English refs in the WC.There’s your answer.
— Lynn Hamer (@evilbluebird) March 31, 2018
Mane had to go there. Utterly dreadful, gutless refereeing.
— John Brewin (@JohnBrewin_) March 31, 2018