Rio Ferdinand has hit out at Argentina’s dubious penalty against Poland after minimal contact from Wojciech Szczesny on Lionel Messi during their World Cup clash – labelling the call ‘disgraceful’.
Messi went on to miss the all-important spot kick, with the former Arsenal goalkeeper saving his second penalty in as many games and continuing his own country’s incredible record in the World Cup.
The decision to award the penalty came after a lengthy VAR check, with Dutch referee Danny Makkelie eventually pointing to the spot having waved away the calls for a spot kick initially.
Rio Ferdinand has hit out at Argentina’s contentious penalty decision against Poland – with Lionel Messi missing the chance to give his side the lead
Messi’s effort was kept out by Wojciech Szczesny, who became only the third goalkeeper to save two penalties at a World Cup
And former Man United star Ferdinand furiously said: ‘Disgraceful decision, disgraceful, this isn’t what VAR is here for.
‘He’s flicked his eyelash for starters, that’s an outrageous decision that’s been made.’
BBC commentator Danny Murphy was also sceptical of the shouts for the penalty, saying: ‘It Didn’t look much in the replay, he (Messi) was actually going down, nah not enough.
‘I think his hand touched his face without much contact, I’d be amazed.
‘Still not convinced, he gets a head on the ball and then a little tap in the face. Contact doesn’t always mean a penalty. Not for me. We can never predict VAR, why do we try.’
And once the penalty was controversially given, he added: ‘No not for me. Poor decision.’
Fans have claimed that Szczesny’s save is ‘justice’ for Poland after the dubious penalty
Messi missed the chance to score in seven consecutive Argentina games for the first time
And Alan Shearer had his say, too, stating: ‘Never ever a penalty, can you remember they brought VAR in and said it was for clear and obvious and they wouldn’t re-referee games, that’s never a pen.
‘Four guys here who all think the same. Ridiculous.’
Other pundits and fans also took to Twitter to voice their outrage.
Sky pundit Jamie Carragher added: ‘That is a joke, that is never a penalty! Embarrassing VAR.’
And presenter Kyle Walker claimed: ‘That is possibly the worst penalty decision I have ever seen. Wow.’
The former Arsenal goalkeeper Szczesny’s save was hailed as ‘brilliant’ by viewers on Twitter
One viewer claimed: ‘One of the worst decisions I’ve ever seen what a shambles.’
Another wrote: ‘No way this is a penalty man, he needs to dive for the ball.’
TalkSPORT’s Max Rushden added: ‘That’s not a penalty. Surely not.’
By missing from 12 yards Messi spurned the opportunity to score in a seventh successive Argentina game for the first time in his long career.
As a result of his penalty-saving heroics against Saudi Arabia and now Argentina, Juventus stopper Szczesny has become just the third in history to save two penalties at a single World Cup after Brad Friedel (USA) and Jan Tomaszewski (Poland).
But rather than rue Messi’s miss, the majority of viewers appeared to be on the side of Poland and Szczesny.
The Polish players rushed to congratulate their goalkeeper’s heroics as if he had scored a goal
The overriding message on social media was that the vital save – with the goalkeeper diving well to his left and sticking out a strong right hand – was justice for his country.
Support for Poland flooded in, with one fan writing: ‘That is one of the worst decisions you’ll see. Not even close to being a penalty.
‘Justice served after a brilliant save thankfully.’
One viewer remarked: ‘You’d seriously have to question how a room full of VAR referees ever felt that needed looked at and then an on-field referee decided it was a penalty. Absolute madness. Justice if ever you saw it.’
The Polish keeper had pulled off one of the great World Cup double saves against Saudi Arabia
Another claimed: ‘Absolutely awful decision to give a penalty for that. Justice done with the save.’
A fourth viewer was equally adamant the decision was wrong, stating: ‘Justice for Poland! That was NEVER a penalty!’
And a final fan echoed the general sentiment with: ‘Not even close to being a penalty. Justice for Poland.’
The subsequent missed penalty has been celebrated by football fans on Twitter