Webb blunder saves point for Toffees
Published 27/12/2011 | 05:00
It was as bad a decision as you are likely to see this season and it came from supposedly England's best referee, although Howard Webb's blunder arguably delivered the fairest of outcomes.
Sunderland will feel the most hard done by as Webb should never have awarded a penalty when Leon Osman tripped over his own feet, yet neither could they argue that Everton did not deserve a point on balance.
Everton were the better team in the first half, but Sunderland took the lead through a fortunate deflection. Everton then equalised with a penalty that should not have been given. There were complaints on both sides and hard luck stories, but a share of the spoils was probably the right result.
"It was a terrible decision," said Everton manager David Moyes. "At the time I thought it was a penalty, but I've seen it again and Sunderland have every right to feel aggrieved. We were the better side for half an hour, but didn't take our chances.
Martin O'Neill might have been stronger in his condemnation of Webb given that the official's mistake denied him a third win in four games, although he showed restraint. He said: "It's not a great decision from an otherwise top referee. I have spoken to him, but I've seen it back and he hasn't. He thought, naturally, that there was contact and obviously there wasn't.
"It's disappointing, but they have the hardest job in the world, I will say that. He only gets one look at it and even though he is only six or seven yards away, he's made a mistake."
Webb took a long time to award the spot-kick five minutes into the second half and seemed to be swayed by the ferocity of Everton's appeals, not least Osman who thumped the turf repeatedly in frustration when he thought the foul had not been given.
Everton were comfortably the better side until Sunderland opened the scoring when Jack Colback's shot diverted in off Sylvain Distin.
Neither side threatened much after that until Leighton Baines converted from the spot, although both Louis Saha and Distin were relieved not to score own goals late on. (© Daily Telegraph, London)