Arsenal youngster Daniel Ballard started for Northern Ireland against the United States at Windsor Park on Sunday.
The 21-year-old defender is having a splendid season out on loan at Blackpool. He has been a real star there and his performances on the international stage have been just as good as well.
Against the Americans, Ballard had a really solid game but one moment would’ve left a real sour taste in his mouth.
Chelsea star Christian Pulisic dribbled his way into the box and went down after a challenge by Ballard. Replays showed that the Arsenal man had clearly got the ball and the American’s reaction was nothing but a dive.
Former Northern Ireland International turned football pundit, Iain Dowie, had his say on the incident on Sky Sports during their live coverage of the game. It is safe to say, he was neither happy with the referee’s decision nor the Chelsea winger’s ‘delayed dive’.
He said: “I think he gets a little bit of the ball here. I think he touches the ball here. He does. He does touch the ball. That’s not a penalty for me. That’s poor. That’s a poor decision. He catches the ball with his studs. It shouldn’t be a penalty.
“In my view, Daniel Ballard’s studs get a touch of the ball. He plays the ball. And it’s a bit of delayed dive, I have got to say. The referee falls for it. It’s a poor decision. He will look back on that.”
The Insider’s View:
That really was a shocking decision. The way the ball deflected off Ballard’s foot and went away from Pulisic’s path should’ve convinced the referee that the defender had indeed made a legal tackle.
Sadly, he completely misjudged it and awarded the United States a penalty. The Chelsea man, after his ‘delayed dive’ converted from the spot and that proved to be the winner.
Ballard would’ve been deeply disappointed with that but he shouldn’t be. He played really well and kept Pulisic in his pocket throughout the game.
The Chelsea man had to get a lucky penalty to get the better of the Irishman, which really is a huge compliment to the young defender who is yet to play a senior game for Arsenal.