Great Britain

Football’s most innocuous incidents are now upstaging the moments that really matter


ootball statisticians generally agree that penalties have a conversion rate of around 76-80 per cent. Presumably that figure bumps up a little when, say, Harry Kane or Bruno Fernandes is standing over the ball, and based on this weekend’s evidence it goes down when any Brighton player steps up. It is, though, always a decisive advantage in a football match and a rare and precious thing at the highest level: a free shot at goal.

This basic premise got lost in the only talking point of the weekend’s big showdown between Chelsea and Manchester United, which turned into a predictably underwhelming 0-0 draw. David de Gea made a game-turning save, but that faded into irrelevance in the post-game narrative.

United supporters were enraged on social media by replays which showed Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi jabbing the ball with the back of his hand. Pundits spent much of the day dissecting the incident, and a photo which later emerged showing the wing-back wearing the ball like a wedding ring did little to appease furious fans.

Football news:

Rodgers on 3-0 with West Brom: Leicester can play much better
Sorokin on the additional Euro matches in St. Petersburg: The decision should be made at the political level. While it is not accepted
Gasperini on 1-1: Atalanta should have beaten Roma
Ex-head of Loko Naumov on Nikolic: I can't fully praise him yet. There are 5 important games left
I don't think Barcelona is any better. Koeman on the fight for the La Liga title with Real Madrid, Atletico and Sevilla
Koeman on Minges: In Barca, you should always play actively. Pedri, Araujo also played below their level
Ronald Araujo: For Barca, all matches are finals. We won Getafe-this is the main thing