Terry's 'horror' tackle leaves O'Neill enraged

Martin O'Neill last night said James Milner was "exceptionally lucky to have his career intact" after suffering what he described as a "horrendous" foul by John Terry. Milner was fouled late in the game with Villa trailing 1-0 as he attempted to launch a counter-attack.

"It was a horrendous tackle for an England team-mate to make," said O'Neill. "James is very sore, and very lucky. He has got away with it because he had his leg in the air at the time. He is exceptionally lucky his career is intact."

The Aston Villa manager also criticised Howard Webb, the referee, both for not dismissing Terry – "a straightforward decision, he was right beside it"– and for rejecting Villa's early penalty appeal after John Obi Mikel appeared to foul Gabriel Agbonlahor.

O'Neill's escape from the pressures of management is to study famous crimes. It was a perceived miscarriage of justice which first piqued his interest, the 1962 hanging of James Hanratty for the A6 murder, and he has subsequently tended to focus on the cases where the forces of law and order may be confused or mistaken.

Yesterday provided an unwanted case study when Agbonlahor turned Mikel in the box, then went to ground under the Nigerian's challenge. There is little doubt the striker was looking for a decision, but it also seemed clear that Mikel had cut across Agbonlahor's knee with his thigh. While Agbonlahor beat the turf in exasperated fury O'Neill was apoplectic on the touchline.

"It was a clear-cut penalty [that] a referee I had the utmost regard for until today chose to ignore because of the possible consequences," said O'Neill, referring to the prospect of Mikel being dismissed for denying a goalscoring opportunity.

Stoking his ire was the knowledge that this was the second apparent miscarriage of justice Villa had suffered in two visits to Wembley this season. In the Carling Cup final in February Phil Dowd failed to dismiss Nemanja Vidic after the Manchester United defender brought down Agbonlahor in the box when he was through on goal. Manchester United subsequently won 2-1.

"Five weeks ago the ref bottled it completely," said O'Neill. "I thought it was an injustice then, and an injustice today. Maybe we have just just been desperately unlucky, but they are game-changing decisions. I can't tell we would win if Chelsea were down to 10, or nine, but they change the game, the outlook. Referees have the consequences [a dismissal] on their mind. They should not just apply the laws; a bit of fair play is all I'm looking for. There are decisions in matches that can be contested; these are incontestable, straightforward decisions."

"It could have been a penalty, maybe," said Carlo Ancelotti, who tends not to comment on refereeing decisions. The Chelsea manager added: "It was a strong tackle in the box."

Last week, after Webb failed to give Louis Saha a penalty in the Everton-West Ham match, or dismiss Sylvain Distin for a professional foul, the former referee Graham Poll said "big decisions" are troubling' England's representative for the World Cup finals and said Webb had "struggled to give penalties all season". The evidence for this assertion is mounting.

There was even an argument that a third Chelsea player could have been dismissed. After Terry had implanted his studs on Milner's calf, Webb waved play on as Stiliyan Petrov had possession. Deco pulled him back. Now Webb halted play and Terry saw a yellow card. Webb should then have booked Deco; play was live when the Portuguese fouled Petrov as Webb had allowed the advantage. Deco had already been cautioned and would have been dismissed.

Aside from the penalty Villa rarely looked like scoring. Yet, such are the narrow margins at this level, had the big decisions gone Villa's way the result may well have been different. Only in the final minutes did Chelsea romp away.

Steve Bruce reflected, when Wigan manager last year, after a disappointment at Stamford Bridge, that the big club always get the benefit of the doubt on tight decisions. He had, he admitted, enjoyed this advantage when a Manchester United player. It seems only when, or if, O'Neill gets a big four job will he have justice on his side.

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices