LONDON (Reuters) – Crystal Palace skipper Luka Milivojevic became the first player in an English match to be sent off as a result of a referee reviewing an incident on a pitch-side monitor during his side’s 1-0 defeat by Derby County in the FA Cup third round on Sunday.
A superb display by Derby’s skipper Wayne Rooney lit up Selhurst Park but it was Milivojevic’s dismissal, after an off-the-ball clash with Tom Huddlestone that the match will be remembered for.
Milivojevic appeared to kick out at Huddlestone and then pushed his forehead towards Huddlestone. Both players were initially shown yellow cards but referee Michael Oliver, advised by VAR officials at Stockley Park, then went to his pitch-side monitor to look at the incident again.
Having done so he upgraded Milivojevic’s card to a red.
Since the introduction of VAR in the Premier League this season, referees have waited for VAR decisions to be made by officials at Stockley Park — a situation that has been criticised by players, pundits and fans.
Palace manager Roy Hodgson said he felt the decision was harsh and questioned the way the decision had been made.
“I’m not surprised the VAR monitors have been used because that’s what people have been talking about why don’t we use the monitor more,” he told reporters.
“As far as the incident is concerned, I think it was a harsh decision. I don’t think Tom Huddlestone has made a meal of it to his credit. Not much I can do about it.
“If it it’s going to be the referee’s decision, what’s the point of the people in Stockley Park.”
Derby’s win was masterminded by former Manchester United and England forward Rooney, playing his first FA Cup tie for two years after returning to join Championship side Derby after a spell with D.C. United.
Playing in a deep midfield role, the 34-year-old ran the game in only his second appearance for the Rams.
Chris Martin scored the winner, but it was Rooney’s controlled display that caught the eye.
He had 77 touches in the match — more than any Palace player — launching pinpoint passes in all directions.
Rooney, who won the Cup with United, was once undermined by his volatile temperament on the pitch, but he was calmness personified, acting as peacemaker, when tempers frayed.
“Rooney influenced the game a lot because you could see his experience,” Derby County boss Phillip Cocu said of the ex-England captain. “I think he did very good; he played a more controlled position.
“A big part of the success today is the combination between him and Tom Huddlestone — it was a pleasure to watch.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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