Watford’s Etienne Capoue should have been shown a red card for his challenge on Crystal Palace’s Wilfred Zaha during the pair’s Premier League encounter, according to Graeme Souness.
The Hornets kept their perfect start to the new season intact with a 2-1 victory at Vicarage Road , winning their opening three games in the top-tier for the first time in their history.
But the game was marred by a challenge on Palace striker Zaha in the first half that saw Capoue booked for an apparent stamp in the region of the former’s Achilles tendon.
Referee Anthony Taylor's decision to produce only a yellow card left Souness seething, with the former Rangers and Liverpool manager roundly criticising the official’s performance.
“Capoue set out to hurt Zaha,” the 65-year-old said post-match on Sky Sports. “This is bad when you see it.
“Look at the referee’s positioning. He’s completely bottled it, look at where the ball is when he makes contact with Zaha’s Achilles.
“It tells me [Taylor] doesn’t understand football. [Capoue] is trying to hurt him badly. Normally when you damage your Achilles tendon badly, which Zaha was in real danger of doing there, you’re never the same player again.
'Watch where the ball is when he makes contact with him. It’s ridiculous and the referee could not have a better view of it. You can’t just say he got it wrong; it’s not as if he got an obscure view. That is 100 percent a red card.
“There's leaving a bit on someone and then there's real malice and trying to injure someone for a really, really long time.”
Fellow pundit Jamie Redknapp agreed that it should have been a sending-off for the Watford man, adding: “'That one is spiteful, it’s malicious and it’s so nasty. Those are the ones that can really damage you physically as a player.”
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson however refused to be drawn on criticising Taylor’s performance, stating in his post-match press conference: “The referee had a very good game. When you analyse with the benefit of television it's something that is picked up.
"He acted quickly to sanction him [Capoue] but he could have sanctioned him harder."
Watford next travel to Reading on August 29 for the second round of the Carabao Cup, whilst Palace meet Swansea in the same competition the day before on August 28.