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Newcastle United’s Eddie Howe on Paris Saint-Germain’s controversial goal: ‘I didn’t think it was a penalty’

Newcastle United’s hopes of progressing to the UEFA Champions League round of 16 took a major hit with just seconds on the clock in their 1-1 draw with Paris Saint-Germain after referee Szymon Marciniak controversially awarded a penalty to the French champions.

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The English side took the lead at the Parc des Princes in the 24th minute courtesy of Alexander Isak, but PSG were awarded a penalty deep into stoppage time after a handball was called on Tino Livramento. Kylian Mbappe converted the spotkick in the 98th minute to rescue a point for his side.

Marciniak’s call was instantly deemed harsh by many since it felt that Livramento’s arm was in a natural position while making a run. CBS Sports rules analyst Christina Unkel, though, said the rules call for a more objective interpretation on handling.

“As you can see, the ball is there, played through and what is it? An extended left arm that creates essentially a barrier,” she said on the UEFA Champions League Today post-match show. “Once that left arm is out, even though there is a deflection, that no longer is part of the interpretation and the analysis but since it’s a barrier, it’s preventing that ball from crossing in. This is an expected VAR recommendation for a handling offense.”

Newcastle manager Eddie Howe was one of several who advocated for a more subjective look at the handball rule in his post-match remarks to British broadcasters and described his feelings upon watching it happen live.

“I’m still coming to terms with it, to be honest,” he said. “We are not taking into account here what’s in the replay, how quick that ball [is]. It was, like, so quick live and it’s hit his chest first and I think that’s the key thing. If it hits his hands first, I still don’t think you’ll get a penalty just because of close proximity but I think you can make more of a case. I don’t think there is a case if it hits another body part first and his hands are low.”

Despite agreeing that the rule was correctly applied, Unkel said she is not a fan of the current interpretation and that the International Football Association Board, which standardizes the rules of the game, will need to address the issue.

“I don’t like the current interpretation and how we are required to apply it now … We have gone too objective with the handling offense,” she said. “I think next season, they’re going to end up interpreting — when we’re talking about natural, taking in these [examples] and maybe adding proximity and maybe adding deflection back into the analysis because those two are out and that’s what’s creating these harsh [analyses].”

The hosts had arguably done enough to score after posting 32 shots against Newcastle, but were far from impressive after a wasteful day in attack. Only seven of their shots were on target, but Howe still recognized that his side’s advantage was slowly being chipped away at during the second half.

“When we were 1-0 up, I hoped we’d go and get a second but it didn’t really happen in the second half,” he said. “We looked tired and they had a lot of the ball and then I think the players accepted we just had to defend well. We had to protect our goal like our life depends on it and I think we did. Nick [Pope] was a huge part of that, as well the other players in the team and it looked like we got there. We missed some chances and you can’t deny that but I think here, with our current situation, they were always going to have chances in the second half.”

The result puts Newcastle in third place in an ultra-competitive Group F but will require them to beat AC Milan on Matchday 6 and for PSG to lose at Borussia Dortmund, who already booked their spot in the round of 16 with a win over Milan on Tuesday. Howe is choosing to be optimistic despite the crushing late penalty call, especially considering the opposition and the Magpies’ injury crisis.

“Felt really flat but at the same time very, very pleased with what the players have given today,” Howe said. “You can see the squad is very, very thin but what the players gave today in the game — their commitment, their execution. We rode our luck at times but I think we deserved that and we sort of ran out of luck at the end because I didn’t think it was a penalty.”

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