MANCHESTER – Erik ten Hag criticised the “inconsistent” video assistant referee after Manchester United’s Casemiro was the only player sent off following a mass brawl in Saturday’s 2-1 win against Crystal Palace.
Bruno Fernandes’ early penalty and a Marcus Rashford strike put United on course for a 13th successive home win in all competitions.
But ten Hag’s team had to survive a nervous finale at Old Trafford after Brazil midfielder Casemiro was dismissed before Palace’s Jeffrey Schlupp scored to reduce the deficit.
Just before his goal, Schlupp had shoved United winger Antony off the pitch, sparking a skirmish involving both sets of players which ended with Casemiro receiving a straight red card for violent conduct.
Referee Andre Marriner was advised to check the pitchside monitor by the VAR to review images of Casemiro grabbing Palace’s Will Hughes by the throat.
“It was a really high-level first 70 minutes until the incident takes place and then you see this team stands for each other,” ten Hag said.
“It’s such a good spirit for the team and they don’t accept when a player from us can be badly injured. That is the way Antony got treated.
“This team sticks together, but of course you have to control your emotions, but it’s really difficult in such a moment.
“Then I see two teams fighting each other, I see two teams where players, several players, are crossing the line and then one player is picked out and sent off. For me, that’s not right.”
United’s victory consolidated their grip on third place in the Premier League.
Gloss was taken off the result by Casemiro’s red card and ten Hag said Schlupp took a “big risk” by shoving Antony off the pitch, saying he could have been “badly injured”.
The Dutchman also claimed Palace’s Jordan Ayew should have “definitely” been sent off for his actions in the fight that followed, with the lack of VAR consistency infuriating him.
“You bring it up, but that was one of the players who did even worse, I would say, than Casemiro,” ten Hag said of Ayew.
“With Casemiro, you freeze the moment and he’s crossing the line there, but many more players are crossing the line.
“You have to be consistent as a VAR. Last week we missed Christian Eriksen (who is out for three months) by a bad foul. No interference from VAR.
“In Crystal Palace (last month), (Jean-Philippe) Mateta is elbowing (Lisandro) Martinez, he is running for two weeks with a mark on his eyebrow and (VAR’s) not interfering. I see this is not right.”
Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira was also furious with the officiating.
He stormed straight over to Marriner at full-time, but, asked what he said to the officials, he replied: “I don’t want to talk about it.”
On Casemiro’s dismissal, he told Sky Sports: “I didn’t see the red card, I was far from it. The game has to be played with respect, and sometimes when you don’t respect your opponent, things can happen.
“The player from United was looking for it, and he created this situation. But it’s about remaining calm, concentrate on what you want to do, and I was pleased with the character we showed today.”
Former Aston Villa and England striker Gabriel Agbonlahor was more scathing, saying Casemiro should have been “arrested”.
He said on talkSport: “Casemiro thought he was Brock Lesnar back in the UFC.
“The way he was strangling Will Hughes, he should be arrested for that. Kids are watching that later on, on Match of the Day. Seeing Casemiro strangling an opponent.
“This isn’t ice hockey in America where they have a scrap during the game. This is football, we don’t want to see that.”
However, the Premier League’s all-time top scorer Alan Shearer disagreed, calling Casemiro’s dismissal harsh. He told the BBC: “There’s another angle where it doesn’t look anywhere near as bad.
“And this angle here (from behind Hughes) you can see it there closely, he’s got hold of him, yes, but by the shirt rather than around the neck...
“There’s a lot more going on... slaps and pushing and grabbing and everything else.” AFP