Champions League: Even Guardiola apologized to István Kovács
According to BBC reporter Mark Halsey, who has refereed the English topflight for 15 years, István Kovács made "textbook example" decisions in the first leg of the Manchester City-Real Madrid Champions League semifinal (4-3). Adrian Porumboiu, who refereed even at the 1996 European Championship, believes that after Kovács's performance on Tuesday, the 37-year-old Hungarian born in Carei has a good chance of refereeing the Champions League final on May 28.
|István Kovács's performance was described as brilliant by the BBC commentator although there was no shortage of challenges. There were some tense and difficult moments in the City-Real match (Photo: Getty Images)|
The Spanish and English press are also pleased with the performance of István Kovács, the referee of the Champions League semifinal that brought Manchester City the 4-3 victory.
According to El Mundo Deportivo's expert César Barrenechea, "Kovács was always where he needed to be," followed well "the very combative and high-speed game," and he was always close to the actions. The Spanish expert highlighted that Kovács used the advantage rule in the 74th minute. This was the situation when Toni Kroos fouled Oleksandr Zinchenko on the left side of the penalty area, but the ball reached Bernardo Silva, who, after a trick, scored a huge goal from 13 meters into the short top corner. "I thought the referee István Kovács handled the game very well. He blew the whistle when he had to and let play go on when he could. It was a great game management."
The referee with a PE degree has been a member of FIFA since 2010. In the current Champions League season, this was his fifth match and was the third time when he refereed for Manchester City. In addition to Tuesday night's clash, he also led the Sevilla-Lille, FC Bruges-Manchester City, and Shakhtar-Internazionale matches in the group stage, as well as the Manchester City-Atlético Madrid quarterfinal.
The BBC's Phil McNulty described Kovács's use of advantage for Bernardo Silva's goal as brilliant.
Manchester City 4-2. Bernardo Silva. Brilliant use of advantage by referee Istvan Kovacs. Zinchenko fouled by Kroos but play waved on.— Phil McNulty (@philmcnulty) April 26, 2022
According to the newsbeezer.com report, Romanian Digi Sport's commentator joked about the incident: “Assisted by István Kovács.”
"Fantastic decision," said before Silva's goal Mark Halsey, who has refereed the Premier League for 15 years. "It was textbook refereeing," he added.
According to Pável Fernández García, another former referee, the way Kovács immediately spotted Aymeric Laporte's hand before Karim Benzema's Panenka penalty was also brilliant. García told Marca Radio: "Manchester's players complained that Laporte's hand came after he was cleared with his head, so there was no opportunity or intent. But it was also clear that City's defender had already jumped up with his arms outstretched that justifying the penalty, which Kovács correctly awarded.”
Britain's Daily Mirror also discusses the penalty pointing out that even Josep Guardiola, the home team's master, apologized to the referee after the match for complaining vehemently multiple times. “I apologized to the referee, it was just emotion. For me, I was there and thought it was for our side but they decided the opposite. That's all.”
|István Kovács gives a yellow card to the complaining Pep Guardiola (Photo: Getty Images)|
Marius Avram, the Romanian FIFA referee who retired in 2020, went all the way to call Kovács's refereeing a "perfect match performance" in the columns of prosport.ro. "We saw an extraordinary performance, both from the teams and the referee. In the first half, he was unnoticeable: he was discreet, calm, and very focused. And even when things got very heated, he was close to the action at every key moment. He handled the tense moments with Guardiola well, and there were also the advantage and the well-judged penalty. He deserves a big congratulations. He has proven himself to be a member of the narrow elite and has taken a key step towards being included in the World Cup refereeing squad," Avram said of Kovács.
The performance of the referee, born in Carei, just six kilometers from the Hungarian-Romanian border, is not inconsiderable from the point of view of this year's Champions League final, in addition to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. According to media reports published before Tuesday's match, the European Association will select one out of four referees for the semifinals, who will also lead at the Stade de France in Paris on May 28.
"He gave the world a lesson and that's how we have to play on the international level. István Kovács has every chance of refereeing at the Champions League final," Adrian Porumboiu of Romania who refereed even at the 1996 European Championship, was quoted on Antena Sport's website.
SEMIFINAL, FIRST LEG
MANCHESTER CITY (english)–REAL MADRID (spanish) 4–3 (2–1)
Manchester, City of Manchester Stadion, 52 217 spectators. Referee: István Kovács (romanian)
MAN. CITY: Ederson – Stones (Fernandinho, 36.), Rúben Dias, Laporte, Zincsenko – De Bruyne, Rodri, Bernardo Silva – Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus (Sterling, 83.), Foden. Manager: Josep Guardiola
REAL MADRID: Courtois – Carvajal, Éder Militao, Alaba (Nacho in halftime), F. Mendy – F. Valverde, Kroos, Modric (Ceballos, 79.) – Rodrygo, (Camavinga, 70.), Benzema, Vinícius Júnior (Asensio, 88.). Head coach: Carlo Ancelotti
Goal scorers: De Bruyne (2.), Gabriel Jesus (11.), Foden (53.), Bernardo Silva (74.), and Benzema (33., 82. – second one is a penalty), Vinícius Júnior (55.)