Triple Jeopardy: Why Denmark's Jorgensen avoided red card in Croatia clash

Mathias Jorgensen Denmark 2018
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The Huddersfield Town defender downed Ante Rebic with the net gaping during extra time - but under new regulations escaped an early exit

Denmark defender Mathias Jorgensen sparked fierce debate on Sunday when he took down Ante Rebic when a Croatia goal looked inevitable - and escaped a red card. 

The two teams were deadlocked deep into extra time in their World Cup last 16 encounter when Rebic broke through the Denmark defence. 

Kasper Schmeichel was left stranded as Rebic rounded the Danish goalkeeper, leaving the net gaping. 

Jorgensen, however, had other ideas, and felled the Frankfurt player with little intention of playing the ball. 

It was as clear a penalty as we have seen in this World Cup, but to many observers' bemusement Jorgensen was only awarded a yellow card by match official Nestor Pitana. 

'Triple Jeopardy' law

The decision in fact owes to a law change ushered in by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in 2016, when it was decided the punishment for impeding a clear goalscoring opportunity be reduced. 

Previously, defenders or goalkeepers guilty of such a professional foul were liable for what was dubbed a 'triple jeopardy' punishment for the same offence: a penalty, red card and suspension for subsequent games. 

Players can still be sent off for holding, pulling or pushing, not playing the ball or having no possibility to play the ball, serious foul play, violent conduct or deliberate handball.

Applied to Sunday's clash, Pitana's interpretation was that Jorgensen - who had earlier opened the scoring in the first minute before Mario Mandzukic's equaliser - made an attempt to regain possession from Rebic, and thus only merited a booking.

Mathias Jorgensen Denmark 2018

Under those rules a case such as that of Luis Suarez, who was sent off in the 2010 quarter-finals for handling on the line against Ghana, would still be punished with a red. 

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Just like Asamoah Gyan in that match, the subsequent spot-kick taken by Luka Modric was saved by Schmeichel. 

There was, however, a happier end for Croatia, who prevailed in the subsequent shoot-out with Modric redeeming himself by stroking home his second attempt to get the better of the Denmark keeper. 

Hero or villain?

Jorgensen's tackle and his rather light punishment was the source of much conflict on Twitter despite Croatia's eventual victory.