Gary Neville savages ‘rank bad, joke of a referee’ after England agony

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Gary Neville has slammed World Cup referee Wilton Sampaio after his shambolic performance in England’s quarter-final defeat to France – labelling the Brazilian “rank, bad.” The man in the middle lost control at times during the intense knockout clash at Al Bayt Stadium and even waved away two huge penalty calls for the Three Lions.

He ignored a clumsy first-half challenge on Harry Kane from Dayot Upamecano that was later dismissed by VAR before even waving away a shoulder charge from Theo Hernandez on Mason Mount in the second half.

But VAR intervened on that one before Sampaio overturned his decision to award England a second penalty.

Even during the match, the South American official missed several fouls on Bukayo Saka – not least one in the build-up to France’s opening goal.

Neville was not best pleased with the referee’s performance, saying during ITV punditry: “The French defenders lacked composure through the evening. It was startling.

“We knew that was the weak point of the team but we never realised how many poor decisions they would make in those types of areas.

“The referee, I thought he had an absolute nightmare. He was a joke of a referee, him.

“I’m not saying it was all down to him and people will think it’s excuses but he was just a bad referee. Rank, bad.”

England were behind when Aurelien Tchouameni thundered home a pile-driver in the first half as France went in 1-0 up at the break.

The Three Lions rallied back and showed incredible spirit to wrestle their way back into the contest and they achieved exactly that when Kane slammed his penalty home.

Olivier Giroud then put France back in front with around 15 minutes left to play but even still, England were never out of this pulsating knockout tie.

They had another chance to tie things up when Mount was crashed into by Hernandez but this time around Kane fluffed his lines – ballooning the ball over the bar.

The England captain could barely keep his emotions in check following the miss as Jordan Pickford and Kieran Trippier pushed away the cameras at full-time.

England were arguably the better side and they were in the ascendancy before Giroud’s second-half goal killed their momentum, even if their response was instant – they needed to get ahead in the game.

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