'Horror challenge' - Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce raging at refereeing decisions in defeat to Sheffield United

Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce was left "baffled" by the decision to award Sheffield United what turned out to be a decisive penalty as the Blades picked up their first league win of the season at Bramall Lane.

By Danny Hall
Tuesday, 12th January 2021, 9:06 pm

The visitors were reduced to 10 men in the first half when Ryan Fraser picked up his second booking, and the breakthrough that United deserved came in controversial circumstances when substitute Billy Sharp looked to latch onto Ollie Norwood's long ball forward.

Sharp tussled with defender Federico Fernández, who looked to bat the ball away with his arm under pressure from the Blades skipper. Referee Andy Madley reviewed the incident on his pitchside monitor and awarded the penalty, which Sharp coolly stuck away for his 100th league goal for the Blades and what ultimately proved to be the winner.

"I've got no issues with the red card - we can't argue with that and you can't argue with how poor we are in the first half," Bruce said.

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"But the penalty baffles me. The referee got it spot on in real time. It hit [Fernandez's] hand but it's not intentional. It could have been a foul on him as well.

"VAR is supposed to be for clear and obvious decisions. How someone 300 miles away on a TV screen can overturn it is beyond me.

"You know when the referee goes to the screen it will be a penalty - it's pathetic. It's beyond me."

Bruce was also fuming about what he described as "a horror challenge" by Sharp on Fabian Schär, which saw him booked.

Ethan Ampadu of Sheffield Utd and Steve Bruce manager of Newcastle United: Darren Staples/Sportimage

"That should be a straight red card," the former United manager said.

"It's blatant. They didn't check it. It's laughable, the whole VAR situation, and I don't think anyone enjoys it.

"I'm struggling to cope with it. Week in week out, it's ruining the game."

Sharp's winner ended a dismal run of 15 defeats in 17 Premier League matches this season for the Blades and was the least Chris Wilder's team deserved after dominating against a negative and unimaginative Newcastle side.

The Magpies were uninspired and mundane before Ryan Fraser's red card just before half-time made their task even harder.