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Nuno Espirito Santo fumes at VAR’s failure to send off James Maddison for ‘punching’ Ryan Yates

Referee Simon Hooper (R), James Maddison (C) and Ryan Yates (L) – Nuno Espirito Santo fumes at VAR's failure to send off James Maddison for 'punching' Ryan Yates

Nuno Espirito Santo was baffled by VAR’s failure to intervene when James Maddison appeared to punch Ryan Yates during Tottenham Hotspur’s 3-1 win over Nottingham Forest. In an off-the-ball incident in the final minute of the first half Yates fell to the ground after jostling with Maddison in the Spurs’ penalty box.

After a delay in which referee Simon Hooper appeared to be communicating via his headset, the incident passed with no more punishment than a conversation between Hooper and the two players. “It looked like Maddison punched Yates,” was the diplomatic phrasing of a question put to Nuno after the game. “It doesn’t look like he punched him, he punched him,” said the Forest manager.

“I saw the image. I was surprised that VAR didn’t tell Simon to review it better because honestly, with all my respect, Maddison loses his composure and it’s a punch in the stomach of Yates. It should have been reviewed and [led to] a different decision, not to chat with the players and it looks like nothing happens.” Nuno said he had not asked the referee to explain his decision. “We did not see it the same way. We didn’t agree, me and VAR.”

“It’s clear for me, I think it’s a red card,” Nuno said on Sky Sports. “I’m surprised Simon solved it with a nice chat.”

Roy Keane thinks Yates was ‘dramatic’

But Maddison’s apparent act of aggression was not met with universal condemnation on Sky. Roy Keane was asked if he agreed that the England midfielder deserved a red card. “No, not really.

“I know Yates is a nice lad but he does a lot of this, I don’t like the look of it. He’s asking the official to look at the VAR. There’s no need for it. He’s a tough boy, he likes to give it out. If you’re giving out you’ve got to take it. I think it’s a bit dramatic the way he goes down there. Get on with the game, just toughen up a little bit.

“I don’t see that as a punch. It’s a coming together, that’s the way I look at it.”

Tottenham’s victory puts them into fourth and a potential Champions League spot but their manager Ange Postecoglou claimed again he was not overly focussed on his side’s league position. “Couldn’t care less about the race for fourth,” he said. “What I care about is the way the team is progressing.”

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