Melbourne Victory coach Tony Popovic has bemoaned the penalty that led to Newcastle Jets coming from behind on Saturday night and snatching all three points at his side’s expense.
With the scores level deep in the second-half, referee Daniel Elder pointed to the spot after Jets winger Olivier Boumal went down inside the box following a tangle with Victory defender Brendan Hamill.
Beka Mikeltadze dispatched the resulting spot-kick and despite a late push from the ten-man Victory, Newcastle stayed resolute and came away with a 2-1 win.
Popovic was unable to hide his frustration with the decision as his side fell to a second straight defeat and a fourth-straight A-League game without a win.
“No. Just no. It clearly wasn’t a penalty,” Popovic said.
“If we’re going to start giving penalties for challenges like that then we’ve really got some issues.
“That’s not a penalty. In my view, that’s not a penalty.”
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Popovic also called for greater consistency from the referees after Victory captain Josh Brillante was sent off moments after halftime – a decision that helped swing the pendulum in Newcastle’s favour.
“Listen, they scored in that moment, in that period straight after the red card, which was Josh’s second challenge,” Popovic said.
“There was a challenge in the first half from Mikeltadze that (should have been) a second yellow, but he had a yellow so it didn’t get a yellow card. And Josh went, it was a challenge, the yellow card came out quickly.
“If we’re going to give yellow cards like that, let’s do it all the time. Let’s do it throughout the whole game. That’s the issue.”
After Victory played what he described as its best football this season, Popovic was equally disappointed that his side’s first-half efforts went unrewarded.
“For me I’d rather talk about the first half. The first half was outstanding from us, the best display we’ve had this year. That’s why I’m frustrated with the end of the game,” Popovic said.
“The whole display. The entire thing from start to halftime. With the ball, without the ball, controlling the game, creating chances, it was a fantastic display. It shows a lot of growth from the team so we’re definitely on the right track.”
After coming away with all three points, Newcastle are within touching distance of the top six and their coach Arthur Papas was full of praise for their performance.
“I’m extremely pleased with the players and staff. It hasn’t been easy since returning from the long lay-off and coming here is always very difficult,” Papas said.
“Last Saturday they were being crowned champions here so a lot of confidence playing at home. Just really proud of the playing group for the performance and the grit that they needed to show at times.”