Benatia slams referee for penalty mix-up

The Morocco international suggested the official asked the Sassuolo forward to tell the truth before revoking the spot kick in Roma’s favour

Roma defender Mehdi Benatia has criticised referee Nicola Rizzoli after he claims the official Nicola Sansone if he was fouled before overturning his decision to give Sassuolo a penalty in Sunday’s match.

The incident occurred in the first half of the Giallorossi’s 2-0 win over Sassuolo, with Sansone going down inside the box under a challenge from Benatia causing the referee pointed to the spot.

But after five minutes of protests from the Roma players, Rizzoli changed his mind and awarded a dropped ball and Benatia was unhappy with the way that the official went about deciding what to do.

“In my view, the referee didn’t want to give the penalty and the official behind the line called him over, but they didn’t understand each other,” Benatia told Sky Sport.

“Then he asked Sansone to tell the truth, but we were all angry, because you can’t ask a player who is desperate for points to avoid relegation if he was fouled or not.

“He said: ‘I slipped, but Benatia pulled my shirt.’ So the referee said ‘In that case, no it’s not a penalty.’ Thankfully it all went the right way in the end.

“You can’t ask a desperate player if he was fouled.”

Roma’s victory pulls them to within 11 points of leaders Juventus, who face third-placed Napoli this evening, but despite the gargantuan gap between the two teams Miralem Pjanic believes the title race is still on.

“Tonight, the two teams around us go head-to-head, but all that counts is for us to win,” the Bosnian said. “Then we’ll see what happens, but it will be a tough race right to the bitter end. We want to finish this season off well.

“Are we still looking in front of us? Certainly, nothing is finished yet. If Juve get a negative result, then we’re watching.

“We are doing well, but we also know that it won’t be easy for us today, as Sassuolo are at the last chance saloon. We must stay concentrated.”

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