Manchester United captain Harry Maguire said his controversial touchline kick out toward Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi was a “natural reaction” and there was “no intent” to harm him.
United earned a 2-0 win at Chelsea on Monday what was a scrappy game, but VAR controversy made the headlines once again after two Chelsea efforts were ruled out and England international Maguire escaped sanction for his actions toward Batshuayi.
The incident occurred in the first half when the players tangled each other up fighting for the ball as it rolled out of bounds. Maguire fell and seemingly kicked at Batshuayi’s midsection, causing the Chelsea player to double over. A VAR review ruled against Maguire being sent off.
“I know I caught him and I felt he was going to fall on me and my natural reaction was to straighten my leg to stop him,” Maguire told the BBC after the match. “It wasn’t a kick out and there was no intent.
“I think it’s the right decision. I knew I’d caught him but that I had no intent to hurt him. It was just a natural reaction. I apologised to him and it was nice that the referee saw sense.”
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard didn’t see it as such, saying that Maguire should have been booked and that VAR got the decision wrong.
“Harry Maguire should’ve got a red — then he scores the second goal and the game changes off that. That’s a major part of what VAR was brought in for. That one was wrong.
“It was just the wrong decision. It’s harder to take with the presence of VAR. That’s the reason it was brought in for, love it or hate it. It was universally the wrong decision. It’s not my opinion. Everyone I’ve spoken to says the same thing.”
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said it was Maguire who was first fouled.
“I didn’t think two seconds about it. I think he was fouled, rolled over and he puts his leg out to protect himself,” said Solksjaer.
Headed goals from Anthony Martial and Maguire earned Manchester United the win putting them back in the hunt for a top-four Premier League finish.
The Maguire call wasn’t the only VAR calls that left Lampard with a bitter taste. Chelsea netted twice only to be left disappointed. Kurt Zouma thought he had scored from a corner in the 54th minute but VAR ruled that there was a push in the area by Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta on United’s Brandon Williams.
Then substitute Olivier Giroud’s header in the 77th was cancelled out when VAR showed the toe of his boot was offside.
On those calls, Lampard said: “I think Zouma’s goal should have stood. At first I didn’t. It’s certainly not clear and obvious. Azpilicueta was shoved. Giroud’s was offside.”
ESPN’s Rob Dawson and Reuters contributed to this report.