Eddie Howe says Polish referee Szymon Marciniak needed to be stronger to stick with his on-field decision as Kylian Mbappe’s last-gasp penalty denied Newcastle a famous victory over Paris Saint-Germain.
Marciniak was advised by VAR Tomasz Kwiatkowski to overturn his call not to award the hosts a penalty in the seventh minute of stoppage time after Ousmane Dembele’s cross deflected onto the elbow of Tino Livramento.
Following a lengthy delay in which Marciniak consulted his pitchside monitor, PSG were awarded a spot-kick which Mbappe dispatched to ensure their Champions League fate remains in their hands.
Newcastle must now beat AC Milan in the final round of fixtures and hope they better PSG’s result away to already-qualified Borussia Dortmund.
Speaking to TNT Sports, Howe said: “I’m still coming to terms with it. I feel really flat but at the same time really pleased with what the players gave today. Their commitment, execution… We rode our luck. We ran out of luck at the end. I didn’t think it was a penalty.
“What you don’t take into account with those replays is how quick the ball goes. It hits his chest first. If it hits his hands first, well it’s still not a penalty because he’s so close. But you can make more of a case.
“It’s not a penalty when it hits his chest first and then hits his hand which is low. I’m not allowed to sum it up. I can’t say my inner thoughts obviously [I’d get in trouble].
“I thought the referee was having a good game up until this moment. He had been strong.”
Speaking later at his press conference, Howe added: “In my opinion, it was not the right decision. There are so many things to take into account in that moment. The speed, first. It is a ricochet that, when it is slowed down, looks totally different to the live event.
“I do not think his hand is in an unnatural position. They are down by his side. He is in a running motion. I feel it is a poor decision. It was hugely frustrating for us because you know in that moment how little time there is left in the game but there is nothing we can do about it now.
“I have to control myself, that is my job. It does not do any good to lose control of what you think and what you say. But I just feel for the players after what they have given today and how we have performed in very difficult circumstances and what that does to the group because now our destiny is not in our own hands and that is tough to take after being in that position.”
Howe: We’re still alive and fighting
The Premier League side, who won the reverse fixture 4-1, were heading for a memorable night in the French capital after Alexander Isak’s first-half goal.
They were on the way to securing the three points which would have put qualification to the knockout stages into their own hands.
Howe continued: “Nick [Pope] was like he was against AC Milan away when we needed a giant performance from him. The players accepted we had to defend well and defend our goal like our life depended on it.
“It looked like we got there. They missed some chances, you can’t deny that.
“When we’ve defended so well in that shape, with that personnel for so long, sometimes you make a change and it creates a mistake. Sometimes you twist, sometimes you stick. We decided to stick and obviously it didn’t work out.
“We’re still in it. That’s another thing we can’t forget. We could easily have come here and have not been in the competition anymore. We still believe. As much as it’s a huge, deflating feeling – it could be another story in our season.”
Analysis: Shocking call denies Newcastle
Sky Sports’ Adam Bate:
Paris Saint-Germain scored with their 30th shot of the game and a number of those were clear opportunities so Newcastle could well have been punished earlier than they were. But it was the manner of the equaliser, a gift from the officials, that will so grate.
Mbappe did not breach the Newcastle back line with a bit of brilliance. He was handed the ball and able to convert from the penalty spot not because of a Newcastle error either. Just a desperately cruel penalty call that required a VAR review to make it happen.
The decision to award a spot-kick for the ball striking Livramento’s arm after bouncing there via his chest would have been inexplicable regardless – there was nothing unnatural about his body shape. It is called running. But it was even stranger given earlier events.
There had already been a VAR check when the ball hit the arm of Miley having bounced off another body part. On that occasion, the referee was not asked to view the monitor. It was no penalty either but the reaction time for Livramento was even less.
“It is a disgusting decision,” said Tim Sherwood, watching the game for Sky Sports. “It is ridiculous. It is impossible.” Howe appeared bereft afterwards. So close and denied not by the genius of Mbappe but by a genuinely bizarre bit of decision-making.
Mbappe: We missed too many chances
Paris Saint-Germain goalscorer Kylian Mbappe on TNT Sports:
“It’s hard when you see the game. What happened was we had so many chances to win. In football you can be so much better but don’t win.
“I try to be at my best level every night. I think I could have done more for my team. I had many chances and didn’t score more goals.
“Too many chances. You watch many games and in the Champions League you have to score when you have the opportunity.”
Newcastle’s night in stats
- In all European competition, Newcastle have only won one of eight away games against French sides (D3 L4), with that win a 4-0 victory in Sochaux in November 2004 in the UEFA Cup.
- Paris Saint-Germain have lost just one of their last 36 home group stage games in the UEFA Champions League (W28 D7) and remain unbeaten in 11 such games since a 1-2 loss to Man Utd in October 2020 (W9 D2).
- Alexander Isak became the first player to score an away UEFA Champions League goal for Newcastle since Alan Shearer vs Inter in March 2003. Newcastle had failed to score in either of their two away games in the competition this season before visiting PSG.
- Isak became the fourth Swedish player to score for an English side in the UEFA Champions League after Freddie Ljungberg for Arsenal and Henrik Larsson plus Anthony Elanga for Manchester United.
- At 17 years & 211 days, Lewis Miley became the youngest player in Newcastle’s history to start a major European game. He was also the third youngest Englishman overall to start a UEFA Champions League match after Jude Bellingham in October 2020 (17y & 113d) and Phil Foden in December 2017 (17y & 192d).
Newcastle are back in Premier League action at home to Manchester United on Saturday; kick off 8pm. Paris Saint-Germain visit Le Havre in Ligue 1 on Sunday; kick-off 12pm.
Newcastle complete their Champions League group stage campaign at home to AC Milan on December 13; kick off 8pm. PSG visit Borussia Dortmund at the same time.