Miguel Layún came on at halftime for Mexico and immediately set about making life difficult for Neymar. After a handful of physical challenges between the two, the El Tri defender stepped on the Brazilian No. 10 on the sidelines. Should red have been shown for the Layun stomp on Neymar? Or did the latter deserve red for flopping around like a dead fish?
Layún at right back and Neymar at left wing were going at it for 25 minutes in the second half of their Round of 16 match on Monday. Layún wasn’t taking any shit from the PSG star, who has twice been guilty of some pretty bad embellishments trying to draw fouls.
The altercations came to a head around the 70th minute when the ball went out of bounds near midfield. Neymar was on the ground with the ball between his legs and immediately the fourth official came to stand over him awkwardly. Then Layún came to pick the ball up from in between Neymar’s legs. In doing so, he clearly stepped on Neymar’s shin.
— Telemundo Deportes (@TelemundoSports) July 2, 2018
There’s no way someone with the foot skills of a World Cup player would step like that on accident. Neymar’s reaction was a bit childish though, kicking out at Layún and before he died.
— Peter III (@Peter3HD) July 2, 2018
So should a red have been shown for the Layún stomp? By the letter of the law, one would think so. The fourth official was standing right there but he was poorly placed. He was too close to the action — there was no reason for him to get that close — and thus could not see the Layún stomp that was right under his chin. The center ref apparently didn’t see anything worth a card and even the VAR didn’t call for a review.
Neymar probably didn’t help his cause with his petulant kick-out at Layún after the stomp and his overreaction, pretending his leg had been snapped in twain. And his kick-out at Layún could have drawn a card as well. Neymar would have missed the quarterfinals with a yellow card.
In the end, no card was shown for the brouhaha. About 15 minutes later, Neymar, who scored the first goal, set up Brazil’s second to end Mexico's World Cup in the Round of 16 yet again.