Martin Atkinson “bottled it” by not showing Lucas Leiva a red card in Liverpool’s 1-1 draw in the Merseyside derby with Everton, according to Jamie Carragher.
The Brazilian had already been shown a yellow card in the 69th minute before cynically sending James McCarthy to the ground shortly afterwards at Goodison Park.
Referee Atkinson awarded the hosts a free-kick but kept his cards in his pocket despite an angry reaction from some Everton players, and Brendan Rodgers quickly substituted Lucas.
And former Liverpool defender Carragher felt the official lacked the courage to show a red card in the fixture between the arch-rivals.
“The referee’s bottled it – he knows straight away. He booked Lucas 15 minutes before. He’s just froze at that moment,” Carragher said on Sky Sports.
“He’s refereed derby games before, sent off three players from his five games.
“Maybe going into the game he thought ‘I’m determined not to send anyone off’.
“He let a few yellow cards go early on. He’s known straight away, everyone around him knew and that’s why Rodgers brought him off. I just think he bottled it.”
Atkinson controversially dismissed Jack Rodwell for a challenge on Luis Suarez in 2011, but the midfielder’s suspension was retrospectively revoked, and he also showed red cards to Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Steven Pienaar the year previously.