Wes Brown wrongly sent off by referee Roger East after John O'Shea brought down Radamel Falcao for a penalty at Manchester United

But the official later claimed his decision was not a mistake

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The Independent Football

Referee Roger East made a major error as Manchester United beat Sunderland 2-0 at Old Trafford - sending off Wes Brown instead of John O'Shea. But the official later claimed his decision was not a mistake.

O'Shea, the Sunderland captain, was beaten all ends up after a brilliant touch from Manchester United striker Radamel Falcao, who plucked a ball out of thin air and turned the centre-back.

With Falcao through on goal, O'Shea felt he had no chance to do anything but bring the striker down.

O'Shea clearly fouls Falcao

Brown was closing in on Falcao (and did make slight contact) but the decision should have been clear - Roger East got it badly wrong. He produced the red card and to the amazement of both sets of players and the 75,000 people inside Old Trafford he showed it to Brown.

O'Shea and Brown argued with East that it was the Irishman who needed to be punished, but the referee opted to ignore their protests and those of team-mates.

After a brief delay where it appeared he might change his mind, Brown was again told to leave the pitch.

Two hours after the match, the Professional Game Match Officials Limited issued the following statement:


Wayne Rooney converted the penalty to make it 1-0.

The incident mirrors the Kieran Gibbs-Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fiasco from Stamford Bridge last year, when referee Andre Marriner sent off Gibbs after the latter had turned Eden Hazard's shot around the post.

Gibbs, who received an automatic three-match ban, had that rescinded, while Oxlade-Chamberlain avoided punishment as it wasn't considered a goalscoring opportunity, with the shot going wide. Marriner was dropped from the next set of fixtures after the error.

The incident came on a day when Fifa announced that trials to use video replays in football have been delayed by a year.