Manchester United fell to a defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion on Thursday night in dramatic circumstances, but their night could have been even worse following a controversial incident.
What happened at Brighton on Thursday?
Erik ten Hag’s side faced a tough challenge as they faced the high-flying Seagulls, and fell to a very late defeat as Alexis Mac Allister dispatched a penalty deep into injury time.
However, the result could have been easier for Brighton if a key decision went in their favour, as United winger Antony arguably could have been sent off following an altercation with Lewis Dunk and Mac Allister.
The winger initially kicked out at Mac Allister, before squaring off with Dunk as Brighton players expressed their anger, and he was eventually awarded a yellow card.
Referee Andre Marriner decided that a yellow card was sufficient for the whole outburst, which saw Antony fail to keep his cool, but there is a case to be made that he deserved a red card.
United lost in the end, meaning that the impact of the decision may be less than if Brighton dropped points, as the visitors could have played the final 20 minutes with ten men.
Footage of the incident was posted to Twitter by Sky Sports.
Did Marriner make the correct decision?
Given that there were two offences: the kick-out and the altercation, Antony should have received two yellow cards. Although neither offence was worthy of a straight red card, he could have been cautioned for both and therefore sent off.
When a similar back-to-back offence took place last season with Gabriel Martinelli of Arsenal, he was booked for both offences and sent off by Michael Oliver.
This should have set a precedent that two bookable offences, even when one is immediately followed by another in the same passage of play, should still receive two yellow cards. The failure to dismiss Antony after he and Dunk had their tussle was potentially the wrong decision.
If Antony had gone on to score for United in the game, then Brighton would have rightfully felt aggrieved, given that he should not have been on the pitch. If United were reduced to ten, then the hosts may have had an easier time in finding the winner.
Marriner’s decision has meant that Antony will be available for United’s trip to West Ham United, as he would have otherwise been suspended if he was dismissed.