Did David Luiz’ reaction to Rafael’s tackle lack professionalism?

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The major talking point after Chelsea’s 1-0 victory over Manchester United on Sunday is whether David Luiz should be condemned for going to ground and smiling after getting hacked to the ground by Rafael da Silva.

The incident occurred in the 87th minute just after Juan Mata had given the Blues a 1-0 lead. Luiz had the ball near the corner flag and Rafael was applying tight pressure. As Luiz shielded the ball the United defender forced him closer to the corner flag before sweeping his right leg through the Chelsea man, dumping him out. Luiz went down in a heap but flashed a smile to the Chelsea faithful as he lay on the ground. Referee Howard Webb then proceeded to show Rafael a straight red card.

The incident compelled Sir Alex Ferguson to go off on Luiz in his post match comments. “The ref has been bought by the fact Luiz is rolling about,” Ferguson said.

Later in his tirade the United manager continued, “[Luiz] was smiling. It’s bad. What kind of professional is that?

“I wouldn’t say it was violent conduct. The referee hasn’t even seen it, I don’t think he could see it at all. But he has gone with the fact that Luiz has rolled about on the floor and I think that convinced him it was a red card.”

So the question must be asked : Did Luiz cross an unwritten line of footballing morality by going to ground and smiling?

Those who believe that Luiz didn’t cross the line will argue that Rafael hacked down the bushy-haired Brazilian. There was nothing light about the tackle. It was an old fashioned scythe-job that, on another day, could have broken a player’s leg.

Luiz supporters would also note that Ferguson’s claim that the tackle wasn’t violent is hogwash. If the roles were reversed and it was Luiz laying the blow on Rafael, the Scot would have been shouting for a multiple game suspension. There was clear intent by Rafael to take Luiz down, your classic corner-flag foul from a team scrambling to get back into a game.

In other words, Luiz’ smile wasn’t because he was faking the foul, it was because he was expecting it. By smiling the Chelsea defender, who is well known as a light-hearted prankster and fan favorite, was doing nothing more than assuring the Chelsea faithful that he was OK.

Those who think Luiz crossed the line will see things differently.

They’ll argue that while it may have been a foul, the manner in which Luiz hit the deck – curling up and writhing in pain – was overly dramatic and unprofessional. It was the move of an actor looking for applause from his audience, something that has no place in football.

Critics will also note that the fall, combined with the huge smile, is a tacit acknowledgement that the challenge wasn’t nearly as bad as it looked and that Luiz was effectively revelling in his role in Rafael’s red card.

So what do you think?

 

 

USMNT AT HALF: Dempsey, Gomez trade goals in chippy first half

AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco
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Christian Pulisic and Clint Dempsey combined for another goal, and the USMNT leads Panama 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier Tuesday in Panama City.

A physical, chippy first half didn’t see many clear cut chances and was 0-0 after 38. minutes.

[ STREAM: Live on Telemundo Deportes ]

The first 10 minutes were a bit frenetic, with the U.S. focused on adventurous first touch passes when it managed to earn the ball from Panama.

That feel wasn’t aided by the officiating, as Cesar Ramos was inconsistent in a very physical opening half-hour.

Then, the breakthrough. Dempsey moved to within a goal of Landon donovan’s all-time mark thanks to Pulisic, who cooked Felipe Baloy and held off Roman Torres before laying off to the veteran. 1-0, 39′.

The lead lasted all of three minutes, as Gomez pounced on a loose ball with the Yanks’ back line at sixes and sevens off a long throw-in. Gomez turned off Jermaine Jones and lost Villafana to bury his chance behind Howard. 1-1, 44′.

STREAM LIVE: USMNT looks for 3 more points in Panama

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The United States looks to finish the international break in an automatic qualifier spot in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying table when it faces Panama in Panama City at 10:05 p.m. EDT Tuesday.

A lot of the faces are the same from the 6-0 demolition of Honduras in California on Friday, though John Brooks and Sebastian Lletget are out with injury.

Jermaine Jones replaces Lletget while Tim Ream moves into the fray for Brooks. Geoff Cameron played Friday’s match with a minor injury, and moves out of the XI for Graham Zusi.

LINEUP

USMNT: Howard; Villafana, Gonzalez, Ream, Zusi; Bradley, Jones, Nagbe; Pulisic, Dempsey, Altidore

Subs: Bingham, Rimando; Beasley, Besler, Camron, Zimmerman; Acosta, Arriola, Bedoya, Kljestan, McCarty, Pulisic; Wondolowski

Reyes header gives Mexico three points in T&T (video)

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Diego Reyes’ 58th minute header off a corner kick gave Mexico a lead it wouldn’t give up in a 1-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago at Hasely Crawford Stadium in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.

The win gives Mexico a table-topping 10 points, seven ahead of last-place T&T.

[ MORE: Honduras 1-1 Costa Rica ]

The Soca Warriors were in fine, stingy form early, and looked to have gone ahead on the counterattack when Joevin Jones belted a left-footer into the Mexico goal.

The linesman, however, ruled that Jones was offside. He almost certainly was not, as Mexico’s supreme luck in CONCACAF play continued for at least one night.

Hector Herrera hammered a shot off the far goal post early in the second half as Mexico attempted to grab control.

T&T goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams jammed Miguel Layun’s shot over the bar moments before the breakthrough from Reyes.

Williams then saved Javier Hernandez’s 64th minute offering as Mexico looked to put three points to bed.

Joevin Jones won a free kick in the 76th minute that gave a brief moment of light to T&T’s hopes, but Jones hit the wall and Mexico cleared the ball.

Honduras holds Costa Rica 1-1

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Honduras did the United States a favor by taking a point from visiting Costa Rica in Tuesday’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifier in San Pedro Sula.

Anthony Lozano pushed a 35th minute chance past an indecisive Keylor Navas, as Los Catrachos set the stage for a hopeful three points.

[ STREAM: T&T-Mexico, Panama-USMNT ]

Vancouver Whitecaps center back Kendall Waston’s haphazard defending helped allow the goal, but he scored off a late Costa Rica corner kick to ensure Costa Rica will finish the international break in second place.

With four points, Honduras moves ahead of Trinidad and Tobago and the United States before both sides play Tuesday.

Costa Rica beat the U.S. 4-0 in 2016, while the Yanks battered Honduras 6-0 on Friday.