Nuno Espirito Santo delivers stern message to Philip Billing following red card

By Sports Desk February 04, 2024

Nuno Espirito Santo delivered a stern message to Philip Billing after the Bournemouth substitute was dismissed for what the Nottingham Forest boss felt was a “compromising” challenge on Callum Hudson-Odoi.

The incident happened late in Sunday’s 1-1 Premier League draw at the Vitality Stadium, where Hudson-Odoi had cancelled out Justin Kluivert’s fifth-minute opener before the break.

Referee Rebecca Welch, who was booed off the pitch, issued Billing a straight red card in the 84th minute of the stop-and-start contest when he clipped the Forest goal-scorer’s Achilles in a midfield challenge. The sight of Hudson-Odoi limping off dampening an afternoon in which relegation-threatened Forest picked up a valuable point.

Nuno, who agreed with Welch’s decision, said: “It’s obvious that it’s a red card and it’s not fair because I think, with all my respect to Billing, I hope he understands when he listens to these words.

“There’s other ways to stop the game. There’s other ways, without compromising the player, you know what I mean? There’s other ways.”

There were few clear-cut chances in the second half a contest that was characterised by its stop-and-start rhythm, with 31 fouls and 17 corners collectively conceded.

The hosts quickly established a lead from Lewis Cook’s corner, flicked on by Luis Sinisterra to Kluivert, who tapped the fifth-minute opener past January signing Matz Sels on his Forest debut, before Hudson-Odoi drew the sides level.

Bournemouth boss Andoni Iraola disagreed with Welch’s decision to send off Billing and – when asked if he agreed with his counterpart’s assessment that the game had been “not easy at all for the referee” – said: “I think there haven’t been any difficult decisions to take.

“Probably the level of fouls called was much higher than other games, normally in the Premier League you don’t arrive to 20 or something like this, so everything was much stopped and this can affect the result.”

Iraola also felt his side should have been given a final corner before Welch, who in December became the first woman to referee a Premier League contest, blew the whistle on seven minutes of second-half stoppage-time.

He did not, however, feel the official, whose performance in the Cherries’ FA Cup tie with QPR he praised, was treated any differently because of her gender after chants of “you’re not fit to referee” rang out around the stadium.

If another referee had made the same decisions, Iraola said: “I think it would be the same reception. I think against QPR she dealt with the game really, really well.

“Today probably there were a lot of stops and probably it wasn’t an easy game for her, but I don’t think (the reception) would be different.”

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