After going behind early following a stunning goal in front of the Kop from ex-Red, Jonjo Shelvey, Liverpool moved into a higher gear and laid siege to Martin Dubravka’s goal. In the chaos, Newcastle’s Isaac Hayden appeared to come out worse for wear in an aerial collision trying to clear a Liverpool corner, falling to ground clutching his face directly in front of referee and all-time meme factory, Mike Dean.
With Newcastle players clearly forgetting to the old sports adage that you “play until the whistle blows,” the visitors were caught up appealing for a head injury stoppage as the second phase of the corner saw Diogo Jota rebound his own miss into the net to level the score at 1-1.
However, while replays showed that Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konate was clearly in the mix in the incident with Hayden, upon closer inspection it appears that the collision most likely involved another one of the two other Newcastle players leaping for the ball, meaning that the referee was not obliged to stop play.
The goal ultimately stood upon VAR review, incensing Magpies boss, Eddie Howe in his post-match interview:
“I need to see it again, but it was clear to me that Isaac went down holding his head immediately, and in my opinion the game should have been stopped,” Howe said speaking to BT Sport.
“Two players down in the middle of our six-yard box, and I think it’s had a huge bearing on the game.”
“He was dazed for four, five minutes after the game. It’s a dangerous moment where we have to think of the player’s safety.”
This was a bizarre statement considering the fact the manager ultimately decided to leave the player in for the remainder of the game.
If it had been a head injury—which it was not clear from the replay or the Hayden’s condition for the remainder of the game that it was—then Howe ought to have removed a player displaying concussion symptoms from the pitch via the extra substitutions provided for that express purpose.
“The priority always has to be the safety of the player,” Howe rightly maintained as he continued on the topic in his post-match press conference “We talk a lot at the minute about head injuries, and I thought it was a wrong decision.
“I think we have been harshly treated today and it follows a similar pattern of other games we’ve had where decisions have gone against us.”
Yes, that could be the case. Or it could be that this Newcastle side is just not very good at football.