WATCH: Why did Hakim Ziyech escape red card for Chelsea vs Spurs after initially being sent off?
- Ziyech initially sent off by referee
- Struck Emerson in the face
- VAR offers reprieve and change of card
WHAT HAPPENED? In a heated first half, a late foul on Richarlison by Kai Havertz sparked a melee between the two sets of players. Chelsea winger Ziyech clearly pushed Spurs wing-back Emerson Royal in the face and was shown a red card by on-field referee – but then told to hang back pending a VAR check.
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Should Hakim Ziyech still be on the pitch? 😧👇 pic.twitter.com/99X1cj3MDv
Hakim Ziyech gets a red card initially for hitting Emerson Royal in the face. But after VAR review, the red card is rescinded.— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) February 26, 2023
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THE BIGGER PICTURE: Stuart Attwell checked his monitor and rescinded the red card, replacing it with a yellow card – much to the anger of the thousands of Tottenham fans in the stadium. The decision was taken that Ziyech didn't intend to strike Emerson in the face, attempting just a push.
The laws of the game state that if a player "deliberately strikes an opponent or any other person on the head or face with the hand or arm", it should be considered violent conduct.
Sky Sports pundit Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink labelled Ziyech "lucky" at half time and Spurs fans directed their ire towards Attwell.
WHAT NEXT FOR CHELSEA AND SPURS? After seeing out a goalless first half in which neither side created any quality chances, tempers were still frayed as the players headed down the tunnel. Oliver Skipp opened the scoring for Spurs early in the second half.