CHRIS FOY: Referee Antonio Lahoz made the right call on Reece James’ handball

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CHRIS FOY: It was a high octane match and referee Antonio Lahoz had an excellent night … the only big decision was the handball scream against Chelsea’s Reece James and he made the right call

  • City players were convinced that they should receive a penalty for handball
  • Referee Lahoz motioned for the ball to hit James’ body and then his arm
  • A VAR check confirmed that the officer had made the right decision

Not only was it a great night for the teams, it was a great night for referee Antonio Lahoz and I thought he was having a great night.

This was a high octane game and it was very impressive.

The only big decision in the 90 minutes was the handball scream against Chelsea’s Reece James and Lahoz got it all right.

Referee Antonio Lahoz gestured that the ball had hit Reece James’ body and then his arm

The rule is clear: it is not a violation if the ball hits a player’s hand or arm directly from the player’s own body. City was adamant, but so was referee Lahoz, who had real authority to dismiss the claim.

Let’s face it, he would have been nervous going into this game because everyone in that stadium would have been nervous, the coaches, players, fans, even the media. It’s the biggest game of the season.

Lahoz is very experienced – he has whistled Champions League games and major games in Spain – but he would still have been nervous.

Manchester City players appeal for a penalty after the ball hit the Chelsea defender's arm

Manchester City players appeal for a penalty after the ball hit the Chelsea defender’s arm

When I cleared my first decision in a game, I was fine and he must have felt the same.

Lahoz used all his skills and seemed to be in complete control of things. There was a frown here, a stern look there, a look, a smile – he perfectly judged the atmosphere of the game and his involvement.

He produced a yellow card in the first half and again it was the right call for a reckless challenge from Ilkay Gundogan at Mason Mount. Lahoz let the game flow and only interfered when he had to.

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