Nick Pope was the star of the show during Newcastle United’s first leg Carabao Cup semi-final win at Southampton - but some argued he shouldn’t have been on the pitch.
The Magpies goalkeeper raced off his line to head a clearance out for a throw in but in the process wiped out Moussa Djenepo.
The Saints winger lay on the turf and was assessed by the physios before being replaced by Adam Armstrong in a concussion substitution.
Sections of the St Mary’s home support and some users on social media questioned felt it was a reckless move by Pope - but neither Nathan Jones or Eddie Howe agreed it was a red card offence.
“I think Nick got the ball, he headed the ball clear and naturally there was a coming together with two players chasing the same ball,” said Howe, head coach of Newcastle United.
“I certainly hope the player is fine, well and OK. He looked a bit shaky when he came off so fingers crossed that there is no long-term damage.”
Jones argued it’s not within Pope’s nature and therefore agreed with Howe.
He said: “I know Nick Pope really well and it’s not in his nature to do anything like that. It’s not a good challenge in any way but do I think there’s any malice? I know Nick really well, I don’t think that’s in his character.
“He (Djenepo) took a big knock to the head so he’s a little bit dazed. We took him off as a precaution really, we didn’t want to take any risks with him. We made a concussion sub so he’ll be rested for seven days now.”
Pope, again, played a vital part in Newcastle’s 1-0 advantage ahead of next week’s deciding leg at St James’ Park. He pulled off two top class saves to deny Che Adams before Joelinton scored on 73 minutes.
Indeed, referee Stuart Atwell and VAR had a big say on other decisions throughout the evening.
Atwell deemed Joelinton to have handled the ball and ruled out his first-half goal after VAR agreed. VAR, however, was on United’s side when Armstrong’s equaliser was ruled out for the same reason.