Gary Neville and Ian Wright clash over controversial England penalty decision in Euro 2024 semi-final

Gary Neville and Ian Wright
-Credit: (Image: ITV)

Gary Neville and Ian Wright were at odds over the VAR decision to award England a contentious penalty in their Euro 2024 semi-final clash with the Netherlands.

England found themselves trailing early in the match, as Xavi Simons fired a stunning goal into the net just seven minutes in, following a mistake from Declan Rice. However, the Three Lions equalised by the 18th minute when Harry Kane was brought down by Denzel Dumfries inside the box and subsequently converted the penalty.

Kane later missed another opportunity, sending the ball over the crossbar, but controversy arose when he was caught by Dumfries' high boot. The on-field referee initially dismissed the penalty claims, but after consulting the VAR and reviewing the incident on the pitchside monitor, he awarded the spot-kick.

During the ITV half-time analysis, Neville expressed his dismay: "As a defender, I think it's an absolutely disgraceful decision. To have that given against me as a penalty at any time, let alone in such an important game. He just goes in naturally to try and block the shot. It's not a penalty for me. It's nowhere near a penalty. I have to say, there weren't many England players asking for it either."

Wright, however, saw things differently, labelling Dumfries' tackle as "reckless" and arguing: "When you look at the way penalties are given now and the way the game is when we go to VAR, that was reckless," reports the Mirror.

Neville retorted in disbelief: "Reckless? That is not reckless. Oh my God."

Wright stood his ground, countering: "But Gary, he's given it. That's why we've got VAR. If that was anywhere else on the pitch you'd get a foul for it!"

Lee Dixon, while providing co-commentary for ITV, expressed his disbelief at the potential penalty decision, remarking: "I would be astonished if this was given."

His fellow commentator Ally McCoist interjected with: "The fact he's running over, I'll be astonished if it isn't given."

ITV's refereeing expert Christina Unkel shared her astonishment, stating: "I am [astonished]. So one of the surprising things here is, yes, is there a studs contact from Dumfries onto the top of the boot from Kane? Correct. However, Kane is getting the shot off completely, his momentum is going through."

Unkel continued, expressing her surprise at the referral to the pitchside monitor: "I am quite surprised that this is being sent [to the pitchside monitor] because it is not a clear and obvious error and in fact the preferred recommendation is for this not to be a penalty."

Dixon further added his take on the incident: "I'm pleased, don't get me wrong. But from a defenders' point of view, you have to challenge for the ball. They both go in for the ball. It's a split second. I don't think that's a penalty, but I don't care. I really don't care."

Jamie Carragher, speaking to The Telegraph, was unequivocal in his view: "That was never a pen. I can't believe the referee was asked by the VAR to look at it. And then I can't believe he gave it. If England go on to win this game, they have luck on their side."