England and Spain emerged with far more credit from an exciting friendly at Wembley than referee Ovidiu Hategan, whose approach has been questioned by the You Are The Ref team.
While it could be argued he contributed to the entertainment by allowing a raw competitive edge to the 2-2 draw, Keith Hackett felt he flouted the laws of the game.
It is rare for YATR experts to criticise international referees and, at 36 with eight years of FIFA experience behind him, Hategan is acknowledged as one of the elite.
Hackett also makes some allowance for the fact that it was a friendly, as does colleague Mark Halsey, who said: “We’ve all been too lenient in friendly matches so we can’t be too critical from that point of view.”
However, the YATR team believe numerous yellow card challenges were wrongly ignored by the Romanian official, including an early challenge from Jamie Vardy that could actually have seen the England striker – later to score his team’s second goal – sent off.
Vardy followed through to catch his opponent with a high boot in what could easily have been deemed a dangerous challenge. His escape from a card of either colour dismayed Halsey, who said: “You can’t manage those sort of challenges, even in a friendly. I thought it should have been red.”
Hackett said: “As referees, we’ve all gone through the different scenario that friendly games bring. Yes, there is a tendency to be lenient and to tell yourself not to overreact.
“But this was an international and it shouldn’t happen at that level. What we had here was a referee failing to apply the laws of the game.”