Wednesday 23 May 2018

Bruce fumes at "joke" penalty call

Steve Bruce, pictured, felt referee Michael Oliver was wrong to award Tottenham a penalty
Steve Bruce, pictured, felt referee Michael Oliver was wrong to award Tottenham a penalty

Hull manager Steve Bruce blasted Tottenham's late penalty in their 1-0 defeat at White Hart Lane on Sunday afternoon as a "joke decision".

The Tigers had performed well in stifling Spurs' attacking threat for much of the game before referee Michael Oliver awarded a penalty to the hosts 10 minutes from time which was duly converted by Roberto Soldado to give Andre Villas-Boas' side victory.

The controversial spot-kick came after Jan Vertonghen's cross was adjudged to have been handled by Ahmed Elmohamady, but Bruce was left fuming at the call.

"It is an absolute joke decision," he said.

"It hits his leg for a start and then goes up and hits his arm, how do you give a penalty in that situation?

"We have more directives and meetings and all this nonsense, they are all getting assessed up in the stands but then they give decisions like that which just baffles me and I have to ask the question, would we have got it?

"The disappointment I have is that I have lads playing today who are desperate to play in the Premier League.

"They are desperate to make a fist of it and they are now questioning themselves after Everton last week, where we got some decisions against us and today where, in my opinion, he couldn't wait to give it."

Bruce was seen remonstrating with Oliver at full-time but admitted any argument was futile and revealed Villas-Boas acknowledged it was a tough decision on Hull.

When asked if he had spoken to Oliver, Bruce replied: "After the game, but what difference does it make?

"It is the same old thing. He's ballsed it up. If my player made a decision like that I wouldn't be playing him next week and if I kept making decisions like that I would get the sack.

"He [Villas-Boas] absolutely, totally agreed. He is going to go and see it and know it is a soft one and in my opinion it is not right, not for the stakes we are playing for - a big game, at White Hart Lane and he has robbed the players of a well-earned point.

"We could get relegated by a point, you never know it is too early yet, but it is what it is."

Up until the contentious penalty decision Hull had managed to prevent Tottenham creating too much after setting up with a 5-4-1 formation.

Villas-Boas conceded that it was difficult for his side to break down a spirited Hull side and that he felt the Spurs fans had created a negative atmosphere which had affected his players.

"It was very difficult to get in to situations where we could create danger," he said.

"Hull came with one objective which was to prevent us scoring the first goal. We tried hard and were persistent, it was different to the game against West Ham, we kept our cool today.

"We played in a very difficult atmosphere, very tense, very negative and we looked like the away team but we kept our cool.

"We had to dig deep within ourselves because we weren't getting help from anybody, the stadium reflected this atmosphere, very tense and without a lot of support until the first goal."

Villas-Boas suggested the negativity played in to the hands of the visiting team but insisted he was not trying to criticise the club's support.

"I'm particularly happy with the way the players fought hard against that anxiety and kept their cool to take the three points," he said.

"I'm extremely happy with the crowd normally, fans for me represent the essence of football. The away support has been immense.

"Sometimes at home it is difficult and it looks like it drags the ball in to our goal rather than our opponent's goal.

"I don't intend with this message to send them a warning, neither do I intend to hurt their feelings but this is something that is felt within the group. It is a feeling that invades us in fixtures like this.

"You need that help. We are great believers in emotion and motivation and that is always decisive when you play at home."

One worry for Villas-Boas would have been an injury to England winger Andros Townsend late in the game.

The 22-year-old ended up with strapping on his wrist after taking a plunge over the advertising hoardings and in to the photographers' pit but Villas-Boas said he expects no lasting damage.

Press Association

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