Chelsea vs Manchester United: VAR Decisions on Cole Palmer’s Penalties Explained

Chelsea vs Manchester United: VAR Decisions on Cole Palmer’s Penalties Explained

Martin Moses
updated at April 5, 2024 at 7:23 AM
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C. Palmer
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  • Cole Palmer grabbed a hat-trick as Chelsea beat Manchester United on April 4
  • Manchester United were winning the game heading into eight minutes of extra time
  • Two of Palmer's goals were contentious penalty decisions by referee Jarred Gillet

Chelsea and Manchester United played out an entertaining game at Stamford Bridge on April 4. Both sides threw away leads before the tie was eventually settled in the host's favour.

Cole Palmer struck twice in stoppage time to win the game for Mauricio Pochettino's side. Chelsea were initially 2-0 up, but United fought their back into the game before half-time.

Cole Palmer, Chelsea vs Manchester United, Jarred Gillet, Antony, Marc Cucurella, Diogo Dalot, Noni Madueke
Chelsea players celebrate Cole Palmer's winner during their Premier League game against Manchester United on April 4 at Stamford Bridge. Photo by Robin Jones.
Source: Getty Images

Chelsea vs Manchester United match report

Alejandro Garnacho's strike 23 minutes from time looked to have won the game for Erik ten Hag's charges. Noni Madueke was fouled inside the area by Diogo Dalot, affording the opportunity to draw Chelsea level.

He sent Andre Onana the wrong way for the second time. A couple of seconds later, quick thinking from Enzo Fernandez from a corner kick found Palmer unmarked outside the area to score the winner, sparking wild scenes in West London.

Manchester United fans felt aggrieved by the two penalty decisions. The first one was awarded after Antony bundled into Marc Cucurella. Fans have argued that there was minimal contact on the fullback, but the referee, Jarred Gillet, was convinced.

Dalot's offence, meanwhile, happened after he slipped, falling into the back of Madueke. The Portuguese defender first made contact with Madueke using his hand. But like Antony's challenge, Dalot's contact was perceived to be too soft to be a penalty, with replays showing that he may not have touched Madueke as he fell.

Why VAR didn't intervene in Palmer's penalties

Gillet hesitated for a moment before awarding the penalty. There was a slight delay as VAR David Coote reviewed the replays to determine the amount of contact. Football London reports that Coote was convinced that there was enough contact on Madueke for him to go down.

Section 14 of the IFAB laws dictates that a penalty kick shall be given if a player commits a direct free-kick offence inside their penalty area. The amount of contact, whether minimal or sufficient, is at the referee's discretion.

Additionally, VAR officials have been advised not to re-referee the game and only step in when there is a clear and obvious error, like in factual decisions like offsides.

"We don't want too much interference. We've seen negative comments about overinterference by VAR, so by reserving it for clear situations, then we feel it serves the game best," said the head of the referee's body, Howard Webb, on the Premier League's website.

Had the on-field decision been 'no penalty,' the VAR would have likely agreed with it and let play continue.

Mason Mount's first return to Chelsea

Sports Brief has also reported that Mason Mount received a hostile reception on his first return to Stamford Bridge.

Mount unceremoniously quit Chelsea last summer to seal a five-year move to rivals Manchester United.

He made a cameo performance off the bench with United failing to hold onto their lead in stoppage time.

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Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)