Mike Dean, an experienced English Premier League referee, has criticised American referee Ismail Elfath for affording a penalty to Portugal in their 3-2 win over Ghana in Group H’s opening game at the FIFA World Cup.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored the game’s first goal from the penalty spot, hammering home after the referee awarded Portugal a particularly controversial penalty for an apparent dive by the former Manchester United forward following a close incident with Mohammed Salisu.
Despite protests from the Ghanaian players, the American referee pointed to the spot, rebuffing all attempts to have a second glance at the incident on the video assistant referee (var)
The English Premier League referee, speaking as a referee expert on Bein Sports, was baffled as to why the VAR did not summon the American centre referee for an on-pitch overview, describing it as ‘scary’.
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"I just can't understand why he wasn't invited to the screen.. It's scary" – Mike Dean #PORGHA @ghanafaofficial #Ghana #OttoAddo @FIFAcom #IsmailElfath @SaddickAdams @kwadwosheldon pic.twitter.com/bvDNLL3eaE
— Nuks (@IamNuks) November 24, 2022
Captain Ronaldo had a couple of chances early on, but Lawrence Ati-Zigi saved a low shot and he also headed wide at the far post.
The forward had a goal disallowed for a push on Alexander Djiku while at the other end, Ghana did not have a single shot in the opening period.
The Black Stars improved in the second half as Mohammed Kudus’ shot went wide of the post after a decent build-up from midfield.
Ghana captain Andre Ayew equalised from close range as he tapped in a cross from Baba Abdul Rahman after the Portugal defence failed to deal with it.
A few minutes later, Portugal responded with two goals in two minutes to close the contest as Joao Felix converted a delightfully clipped finish and substitute Rafael Leao coolly stroked in just seconds after coming on.
With the heading to an end, Osman Bukhari headed in a late consolation for the lack of Stars and there could have been real drama in the ninth minute of stoppage time as Inaki Williams intercepted a ball from Diogo Costa but the Athletic Bilbao forward slipped at the crucial moment and a feeble shot was cleared off the line.
The win means Portugal tops Group H with 3 points after Uruguay and South Korea played out a goalless draw early on.
Ghana will play South Korea on Monday, November 28, while Portugal takes on Uruguay in the other Group H match.