Eddie Howe says Polish referee Szymon Marciniak needed to be stronger to stick with his on-field decision as Kylian Mbappe’s last-gasp penalty denied Newcastle a famous victory over Paris Saint-Germain.
The Magpies looked to be heading for a famous 1-0 win at the Parc des Princes as they battled their way through a second-half onslaught from the hosts until match official Marciniak awarded a spot-kick against Tino Livramento after a VAR review, allowing Mbappe to level in the eighth and final minute of added time.
Howe, who said in a television interview that the official had been placed under “extreme” pressure by the PSG players, labelled a decision which cost his side two precious points “poor” in his post-match press conference.
Asked if he felt a sense of injustice, he said: “Yes, I do. It wasn’t the right decision in my opinion.
“There are so many things to take into account at that moment, the speed first. It was a ricochet that when it is slowed down, looks completely different to the live event.
“The ball hits his chest first, comes up and hits his hand. But his hand is not in an unnatural position, they [his hands] are down by his side, but he is in a running motion.
“I feel it is a poor decision and it’s hugely frustrating for us as you know how little time there is left in the game. There is nothing we can do about it now.”
Speaking to TNT Sports, Howe added: “What you don’t take into account with those replays is how quick the ball goes. It hits his chest first. If it hits his hands first, well it’s still not a penalty because he’s so close. But you can make more of a case.
“It’s not a penalty when it hits his chest first and then hits his hand which is low. I’m not allowed to sum it up. I can’t say my inner thoughts obviously [I’d get in trouble].
“I thought the referee was having a good game up until this moment. He had been strong.”
The pivotal moment arrived in the fifth minute of stoppage time when Ousmane Dembele attempted to deliver the ball across the Newcastle penalty area and saw it hit Livramento’s side and rear up on to the underside of his arm.
Mr Marciniak, who had earlier seen decisions not to award spot-kicks for an Anthony Gordon challenge on Achraf Hakimi and a shout for handball against teenager midfielder Lewis Miley upheld, was advised to review the incident and this time decided to award the penalty.
Howe: We’re still alive and fighting
The Magpies, who had taken a 24th-minute lead through Alexander Isak, defended it for grim life until the last-gasp controversy, although they needed Pope to be at his brilliant best on several occasions.
They now need to beat AC Milan at home on December 13 and hope PSG do not win away to Borussia Dortmund to progress.
Asked if that was something to cling on to, Howe, who celebrates his 46th birthday on Wednesday, said: “Yes, I think that’s absolutely right. In the next couple of days, that will become more relevant in our thoughts, I think.
“When the draw came out, it was the ‘group of death’ and I don’t think many people gave us a chance of qualifying from it and sitting here now, I’m a little bit frustrated that it’s not in our hands because when I look back at the two Dortmund games, I felt we could have done better in those matches.
“I don’t think it’s the time for that, I think it’s probably a time to be positive and to say that if we can beat Milan, then good things can happen from it.”
Analysis: Shocking call denies Newcastle
Sky Sports’ Adam Bate:
Paris Saint-Germain scored with their 30th shot of the game and a number of those were clear opportunities so Newcastle could well have been punished earlier than they were. But it was the manner of the equaliser, a gift from the officials, that will so grate.
Mbappe did not breach the Newcastle back line with a bit of brilliance. He was handed the ball and able to convert from the penalty spot not because of a Newcastle error either. Just a desperately cruel penalty call that required a VAR review to make it happen.
The decision to award a spot-kick for the ball striking Livramento’s arm after bouncing there via his chest would have been inexplicable regardless – there was nothing unnatural about his body shape. It is called running. But it was even stranger given earlier events.
There had already been a VAR check when the ball hit the arm of Miley having bounced off another body part. On that occasion, the referee was not asked to view the monitor. It was no penalty either but the reaction time for Livramento was even less.
“It is a disgusting decision,” said Tim Sherwood, watching the game for Sky Sports. “It is ridiculous. It is impossible.” Howe appeared bereft afterwards. So close and denied not by the genius of Mbappe but by a genuinely bizarre bit of decision-making.
Mbappe: We missed too many chances
Paris Saint-Germain goalscorer Kylian Mbappe on TNT Sports:
“It’s hard when you see the game. What happened was we had so many chances to win. In football you can be so much better but don’t win.
“I try to be at my best level every night. I think I could have done more for my team. I had many chances and didn’t score more goals.
“Too many chances. You watch many games and in the Champions League you have to score when you have the opportunity.”
For PSG boss Luis Enrique, there was a mixture of relief and frustration on a night when his side created a host of chances but were unable to take any of them until Mbappe’s late intervention.
Enrique said: “Without a doubt, we played a very great game. We deserved to win. We played better than Newcastle. The result does not reflect what happened on the pitch.
“It’s not basketball. We are one of the teams in Europe that scores the most. Sometimes the ball doesn’t want to go in.
“Sometimes the game looked like table tennis. I couldn’t believe we couldn’t score, but we carried on despite the frustration.”
Newcastle’s night in stats
- In all European competition, Newcastle have only won one of eight away games against French sides (D3 L4), with that win a 4-0 victory in Sochaux in November 2004 in the UEFA Cup.
- Paris Saint-Germain have lost just one of their last 36 home group stage games in the UEFA Champions League (W28 D7) and remain unbeaten in 11 such games since a 1-2 loss to Man Utd in October 2020 (W9 D2).
- Alexander Isak became the first player to score an away UEFA Champions League goal for Newcastle since Alan Shearer vs Inter in March 2003. Newcastle had failed to score in either of their two away games in the competition this season before visiting PSG.
- Isak became the fourth Swedish player to score for an English side in the UEFA Champions League after Freddie Ljungberg for Arsenal and Henrik Larsson plus Anthony Elanga for Manchester United.
- At 17 years & 211 days, Lewis Miley became the youngest player in Newcastle’s history to start a major European game. He was also the third youngest Englishman overall to start a UEFA Champions League match after Jude Bellingham in October 2020 (17y & 113d) and Phil Foden in December 2017 (17y & 192d).
Newcastle are back in Premier League action at home to Manchester United on Saturday; kick off 8pm. Paris Saint-Germain visit Le Havre in Ligue 1 on Sunday; kick-off 12pm.
Newcastle complete their Champions League group stage campaign at home to AC Milan on December 13; kick off 8pm. PSG visit Borussia Dortmund at the same time.
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