Belfast Telegraph

Keepers stand no chance under new penalty rules, fumes Scotland’s Crichton

A controversial spot-kick cost Scotland victory over Argentina in Paris.

Leanne Crichton reflects on Scotland’s elimination from the Women’s World Cup (Richard Sellers/PA).
Leanne Crichton reflects on Scotland’s elimination from the Women’s World Cup (Richard Sellers/PA).

Scotland midfielder Leanne Crichton believes goalkeepers have next to no chance of saving penalties under the new FIFA rules which contributed to their dramatic World Cup exit.

The Scots were controversially eliminated after conceding from a late, twice-taken spot-kick during Wednesday’s 3-3 draw with Argentina.

Following intervention from the video assistant referee, Scotland keeper Lee Alexander was penalised for moving off her line when she saved Florencia Bonsegundo’s initial attempt.

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Lee Alexander saved Florencia Bonsegundo’s initial penalty (Richard Sellers/PA)

New laws introduced before the tournament require keepers to have at least one foot on the goal-line when a penalty is struck and they are being rigorously enforced in France by VAR.

“I don’t know any keeper in the world who will be able to save penalties with the new rules,” Crichton told BBC Sport.

“I think Lee’s done fantastic to save the first penalty. It’s very difficult. It’s a tough one for us to take.”

I don't know any keeper in the world who will be able to save penalties with the new rules Leanne Crichton

The incident involving Alexander came two days after Nigeria’s Chiamaka Nnadozie was penalised for a similar offence during a 1-0 loss to hosts France.

Argentina midfielder Bonsegundo made no mistake with her second effort, drilling home in the fourth minute of added time as Scotland surrendered a three-goal lead to finish bottom of Group D with a solitary point from three games.

England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley sympathised with Scotland over the VAR decision to order the penalty to be retaken.

“It just seems cruel. And so pedantic,” she said. “We were briefed by the referees and they did mention if we do move off the line – but if it’s a toenail…”

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England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley had sympathy with Scotland over the penalty (John Walton/PA).

And she agreed with Crichton that the new spot-kick rules made life difficult for keepers.

“For something so new to be introduced on such a big stage, it’s kind of hard to get your head around it in terms of changing habits,” she said.

“I don’t think people are thinking about it in the moment. We’ve always been able to move laterally, but it’s strange to crack down on it. We were having a discussion about what happens if the taker misses the target, should it be retaken? But I’m no referee and I don’t make the rules. I just try not to break them.”

Scotland needed a win in Paris to give themselves hope of progressing to the knockout stages as one of the best third-placed sides following defeats to England and Japan.

With 20 minutes remaining they were cruising to victory thanks to goals from Kim Little, Jen Beattie and Erin Cuthbert.

But Milagros Menendez reduced the deficit, before an Alexander own goal and Bonsegundo’s contentious leveller sent Shelley Kerr’s side home.

Head coach Kerr was attempting to make a substitution when the spot-kick was awarded for Sophie Howard’s foul on Aldana Cometti.

Glasgow City player Crichton felt the performances of the match officials denied Scotland a vital victory at Parc des Princes.

“I think the refereeing decisions the whole way through the game have probably cost us the match in terms of the three points,” added the 31-year-old.

“We’ve done well to go ahead in the game with the three goals. I think when we’re still 3-2 up, we’re in a comfortable position to see the game out.

“I don’t know what’s happened with the substitutions. I don’t know how there’s no correspondence between the fourth official and the referee to indicate that there are players leaving the pitch.

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Shelley Kerr managed Scotland at their first Women’s World Cup (Richard Sellers/PA)

“We didn’t have 11 players on the park at the moment when we conceded the penalty.”

Crichton also admitted she and her team-mates had to accept some responsibility for their early elimination.

“I think we need to share the blame, and the referees need to,” she said.

“There’s no point in having two linesmen, a referee, a VAR camera that you can go and look at if you’re not going to look at VAR for other decisions that decide games.”

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