Former referee Clattenburg backs officials over Merseyside derby call

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Referee Stuart Attwell was correct not to award Everton a penalty in Sunday's Merseyside derby at Anfield, according to former Premier League official Mark Clattenburg.

Relegation-threatened Everton wanted a spot-kick when Liverpool's Joel Matip challenged Anthony Gordon in the area early in the second half when the game was goalless.

The claims were waved away, though replays suggested there was contact between the pair.

After the match, Gordon told Sky Sports that Matip had stepped on his foot, while Frank Lampard suggested that had the incident occurred at the other end of the pitch, and an Everton player had challenged Mohamed Salah, a spot-kick would have been awarded.

Everton have reportedly contacted the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) over the incident, while it has been reported that the Football Association (FA) have asked Lampard to explain his comments.

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher said on Sky Sports that it was a "stonewall penalty" but suggested that Gordon, who had been booked for simulation earlier in the match, had to be careful not to build a reputation of being a diver.

Though Clattenburg disagrees that it was a penalty, he did echo Carragher's sentiments.

"It's difficult because Gordon got cautioned early in the match," Clattenburg told Stats Perform. "I've watched him over the last months and he does go to ground a little bit too easy.

"And you don't prejudge things, you never prejudge things as a referee, however, it's in there as a doubt in your back of your mind that when a player goes down on the little contact, that you're probably not going to give him the benefit of the doubt.

"So he probably didn't get the benefit of the doubt on the second one after being cautioned earlier and a match for simulation.

"If he had a chance to stay on his feet, I think he could have had the chance and he took the option to go down and the contact's minimal. For me, I think the best decision was play on."

There have been 12 bookings for simulation in the Premier League this season and half of these have been given to Everton players, with three of those coming across their two meetings with Liverpool.

The Reds, meanwhile, have gone 46 Premier League matches without conceding a penalty. That is 22 more than the next-longest active run (Manchester City - 24).

Asked about Lampard's comments, Clattenburg said: "I think that's a perception of football fans. From a refereeing point of view, we just want to get the right decision.

"With the support of VAR, the problem that they have sometimes is if the referee does give the penalty, the VAR wouldn't overturn it, because he doesn't give the penalty. He doesn't overturn it and people think well, why? Where's the right decision?

"There's no right decision or wrong decision as to what the referee gave at that time and he believed that Gordon had tried to win his team a penalty. Lampard's going to be upset - he's a coach, it was a really tight game at that point 0-0 at the time, so he's going to be upset because Everton could have won the Merseyside derby, fighting for their lives at the bottom."

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