Sunday 25 August 2019

Ireland's Michelle O'Neill part of history in Istanbul as Jurgen Klopp hails match officials

Assistant referee Michelle O'Neill during the UEFA Super Cup Final at Besiktas Park, Istanbul
Assistant referee Michelle O'Neill during the UEFA Super Cup Final at Besiktas Park, Istanbul

PA Sport

France's Stephanie Frappart made history by becoming the first female referee to take charge of a major European men's game in the Super Cup on Wednesday - ably assisted by Wexford's Michelle O'Neill.

Frappart is the foremost female official in the world game having refereed the Women's World Cup final in July as well as men's matches in Ligue 1.

She was part of an all-female officiating team with assistants Manuela Nicolosi from Italy and Ireland's Michelle O'Neill for the all-English clash between Liverpool and Chelsea.

Background

Match Officials Manuela Nicolosi, Cuneyt Cakir, Stephanie Frappart and Michelle O'Neill during the UEFA Super Cup Final at Besiktas Park, Istanbul. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 14, 2019. See PA story SOCCER Super Cup. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire
Match Officials Manuela Nicolosi, Cuneyt Cakir, Stephanie Frappart and Michelle O'Neill during the UEFA Super Cup Final at Besiktas Park, Istanbul. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 14, 2019. See PA story SOCCER Super Cup. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Frappart's appointment was welcomed by managers and players from both teams ahead of the match.

Chelsea's Frank Lampard said: "It's great news. I am very pleased to be a part of this moment in history. It is very much due."

Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp also described the appointment as overdue, saying: "I think it's time. It's the first one, it's special, but I hope it's not the last time."

And after Liverpool's 5-4 penalty shootout victory - following a 2-2 draw - Klopp hailed the officials.

"I told the ref team after the game that if we would have played like they whistled, we would have won 6-0," Klopp told Liverpool’s official website.

"That was my absolute opinion. They played a brilliant game. I told (Frappart) as well that I am not happy with the penalty decision because I'm still not sure that it was a penalty, but it's not important anymore.

"They were really good. Whatever you could have thought before the game, there was pressure on them like hell with an historic moment.

"Staying by yourself, staying calm and do what you have to do, decide very important things in a very difficult and intense game, I couldn't have more respect, to be honest. It was really a brilliant performance."

Control

Frappart had a comfortable evening with few flash-points or moments of dissent from players.

She did not issue a card until the 79th minute when she booked Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta for a foul on Sadio Mane. Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson also went in the book for a foul on Emerson.

The Frenchwoman kept up with play throughout the match and will consider her night's work a success.

Decisions

Frappart's assistants took centre stage with three excellent decisions.

First Christian Pulisic ran through before finding the net apparently to make it 2-0 to Chelsea but the flag went up to indicate the United States international was offside, which was confirmed by VAR.

Early in the second half, Chelsea appealed for offside against Roberto Firmino as he set up Mane for the equaliser but the flag stayed down and a VAR check showed the decision was again correct.

Chelsea then had another 'goal' chalked off when the flag went up to deny Mason Mount, another call that was supported by technology.

Frappart's most contentious call came very early when an acrobatic effort from Mane hit Andreas Christensen's arm but it was from very close range and no penalty was given.

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