Gerard Pique held his head in disbelief and walked into the Real Sociedad goal. Deep in added time at Anoeta, the Barcelona defender had been bundled to the ground at the far post by Diego Llorente, but there was no penalty.
Earlier, there had been. Sergio Busquets was penalised for pulling Llorente’s shirt at a corner and Mikel Oyarzabal had put the Basques in front from the spot.
The two incidents bookended a fascinating encounter which could easily have been won by Real Sociedad or by Barcelona, but which ultimately was not won by either.
And while Real Sociedad coach Imanol Alguacil spoke of disappointment that his side had been unable to send their fans home with a win after their fine football, Barcelona felt aggrieved.
Busquets’ pull on Llorente’s shirt as the two tussled at a corner is the type of incident which rarely results in a penalty. But if it is given, then surely the other one must be awarded as well. Yet VAR did not intervene and the final whistle went with Barca’s players still fuming.
“From the bench we see the game with our team’s shirt on. We’ll look at them,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said in his post-match press conference. And on the two incidents, he added: “I haven’t seen the Busquets one. We suspect there was a tug on Pique.”
There had been and even if the centre-back had also been pulling at Llorente’s shirt, the problem was the lack of consistency after referee Javier Alberola Rojas awarded the earlier spot-kick.
“If you set the bar so low, like in the first penalty, you have to give many more,” Busquets told GOL after the game. “VAR should have intervened in the last play. I think the referee saw it, but didn’t want to give it.”
And midfielder Frenkie de Jong told Barca TV: “If he awards the first one against Busquets in the first half, he has to give the one to Pique in the second half.”
Former referee Ander Iturralde Gonzalez, in his analysis for AS, was in agreement. “If he gives the first penalty, then he has to give the second,” he said. “But he didn’t see it and the VAR didn’t notify him.”
According to Cadena SER, Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu will make a complaint to Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) chief Luis Rubiales about the inconsistency in the two calls at Anoeta, which has handed Real Madrid the chance to move to the top of the table on Sunday night.
Added spice for the Clasico clash at Camp Nou on Wednesday.
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