Everton boss Roberto Martinez claimed Sunderland should have had two men sent off after a hard-fought draw on Wearside.
Midfielder Jordi Gomez, who played under Martinez at Wigan, and striker Connor Wickham were perhaps both fortunate not to see red as referee Lee Mason adopted a lenient approach during a 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light.
Gomez, who had earlier been booked for a foul which left Gareth Barry with ankle damage, escaped further punishment after going down easily on the edge of the box under Phil Jagielka’s challenge, while Wickham received no additional sanction after tripping Seamus Coleman for a match-saving penalty.
Asked if Wickham should have gone, Martinez said:
“Yes. I think it’s a clear decision. There’s no intention whatsoever, it’s just a striker trying to win the ball when he’s late in the box, he’s the wrong side.
“Seamus makes a fantastic run – it was great penetrating play – and once you give the penalty away, it’s a red card.
“I don’t agree with the rule, if I am honest with you, but that’s not the debate. The debate is if it’s a penalty, it should have been a red card and at that point, I felt that would have been a major, major moment understanding how the game was and the situation of the two teams.
“I don’t want to see players sent off, but those are the rules. Jordi had a yellow card and he got caught simulating. The referee saw it, he was going to blow the whistle and then decided against it.”
Opposite number Gus Poyet had some sympathy with the Spaniard and admitted Mason might have been caught in two minds. He said:
“Me, I am the type of person that on those decisions, I like black or white, so with Jordi Gomez it’s a foul or a yellow.
“Now I understand the referee sometimes – they explain it to me, I’m not saying what I say – they say there was a little bit of contact, but not enough to give a free-kick, so it’s not a dive. I think it’s a way out, really, so yellow or foul.
“The penalty was given and I think from the position of the referee, it was an easy decision to make. When you don’t know for real if it’s that clear, sometimes referees go 50-50, ‘I’ll give you the penalty, but I won’t send off the player’.
“For me, it’s black or white: penalty, red or nothing. We can talk for ages. I would give it, I need to be honest, if I was on the pitch and I was the referee, I would give it.”
Sunderland got their noses in front with 67 minutes gone when midfielder Sebastian Larsson curled a fine free-kick over the defensive wall and beyond the outstretched arm of keeper Tim Howard.
However, the lead lasted just nine minutes as Baines levelled from the penalty spot following Wickham’s challenge on Coleman.
Wes Brown might have won it for the Black Cats deep into injury time but his header was cleared off the line by the vigilant James McCarthy, who remained on the field despite complaining of tightness in his hamstring which will be assessed on Monday as he prepares to join up with the Republic of Ireland squad.
However by that point, team-mate Barry was in hospital for X-rays on what Martinez had initially feared was a suspected broken leg.
The Everton boss said straight after the match that the injury was to his tibia, saying:
“It’s going to be a broken leg or nothing, that’s where we are with that one.
“Gareth Barry is not a player that will look to go down and try to simulate. We knew he was in serious trouble when he went down.”
However, Martinez was later able to allay those fears. He told the club’s official website:
“I am happy to confirm that it’s not the broken leg we were worried about. There is damage to the ankle we must assess.”
Martinez also revealed James McCarthy would have a hamstring issues assessed on Monday, while Poyet confirmed that full-back Patrick van Aanholt needs surgery to repair his dislocated shoulder and will be sidelined for at least two and a half months.