Mikel Reveals What The Referee Told Him About The Penalty
There was more drama in the World Cup on Tuesday in Group D.
Croatia had already qualified going into the final game of the group, but who joined them in the last-16 was unclear.
Nigeria were in pole position to progress, while Iceland and Argentina both needed victories to keep their hopes alive.
The Super Eagles, however, needed to see off Lionel Messi and Argentina to progress.
The African outfit put in a spirited performance and, with Iceland losing, looked as if they would secure their spot in the knockout rounds.
But barely four minutes from time, Marcos Rojo struck home a brilliant volley with his weak foot to make it 2-1 and break Nigerian hearts.
It was a fantastic performance from Nigeria, and they may have reason to feel hard done by.
The ball appeared to strike Marcos Rojo in the box in the second half with the score level at 1-1.
After consultation with VAR, the referee, Cuneyt Cakir, waved away Nigeria’s appeals.
It was then Rojo who broke their hearts as he struck home ten minutes later.
The ball did strike Rojo’s arm, but whether it was intentional or not is up to debate.
Watch the incident here:
Regardless, Mikel has revealed what Cakir told him about the penalty decision, and it makes for very interesting reading.
Mikel said after the game: “It was a clear penalty for me.
“If you look at the Portugal game yesterday, this wasn’t close to that. This was worse. We have seen it again in the dressing room. It was a clear handball.
“The referee looked at the VAR. He said it hit the hand. I asked why he didn’t give the penalty, but he said he didn’t know.”
So according to Mikel, the referee acknowledged the ball hit Rojo’s hand, but he could not offer an explanation as to why he did not award a penalty.
Nigeria v Argentina: Group D – 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
That does sound a bit odd.
Cakir may have more questions to answer to about the incident in the near future.
Mikel added he was proud of how his team played.
“We did everything we could,” he conceded.
“In the second half we pushed and pushed. It just wasn’t to be. It’s a young team and in four years most of them will be ready for this tournament.
“I’m very proud of the boys and what we have achieved. I think we have done really well. We have to keep going.”
Was Rojo’s handball a penalty? Or did the referee get it right? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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