Wales players protest after the red card shown to Nico Williams against France. Pic: Getty Images.

Daniel James And Robert Page Reveal Apologies Given After Red Card For Wales And Liverpool Ace Nico Williams

By Paul Jones

Daniel James and Robert Page both revealed players and officials suggested Portuguese referee Luis Godinho made a mistake in sending off Neco Williams during Wales’ 3-0 defeat in Nice.

Williams was shown a straight red card after 26 minutes when the score was 0-0 at the Allianz Riviera on Wednesday night.

The Liverpool full-back was only a few yards away from Karim Benzema when he blocked the Real Madrid striker’s close-range shot with both arms away from his body.

After a lengthy VAR check, Godinho decided it was deliberate handball and brandished a red card to the bemused Willams and his teammates.

Despite Benzema missing the resulting penalty on his France return after a near six-year absence, Les Bleus went on to win comfortably through goals from Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele.

“I’m not one to talk about referees, but it’s a friendly game,” Wales’ Manchester United winger James told Sky Sports.

“He took 10 minutes to look at it and then decided it’s clear and obvious. I don’t know how it’s clear and obvious.


“He’s two yards out and I’m not even sure it’s a penalty. We’ve been told that if he’s in a natural position and he can’t do anything about it it’s not a penalty.

“Even their players were saying ‘don’t send him off’. You may as well give them two goals with a penalty and a red card.

“If it had happened against Switzerland (in Wales’ Euro 2020 opener) we would be a lot more gutted.”

Interim Wales manager Page – who is in charge of his country for the Euros in the absence of Ryan Giggs – said: “[The red is] very harsh.

“We’ve looked back at half-time, and the fourth official apologised to me at the start of the second half, which probably makes it worse!

“It’s impossible for [Williams] to do anything. I thought we started OK, created a couple of chances. We had to make a tweak to the formation before we started having seen their line-up; they played a diamond so Neco’s positions changed slightly.

“We still created chances when we were down to 10 men. Disappointing, but a lot of positives to take.


“This [the red] might happen in the competition, so we have to deal with it. But there were some big performances from individuals, and we were a constant threat. Playing France with 11 is a difficult task; 10 is even harder.”

Williams is now set to serve a one-match suspension and miss Wales’ final Euro 2020 warm-up friendly against Albania in Cardiff on Saturday.

Page wanted to give Williams more pre-tournament minutes in that game and says Wales will consider appealing against the red card.

Page added: “Neco is devastated in there. He wanted justification from the referee but he couldn’t get it.

“We’ll do everything we can to overturn it. If there is a chance to do it, we will.

“That’s the disappointing thing. The plan was (for Williams) to play so many minutes here and building up to Saturday, but we can’t do that now.

“It was a harsh penalty anyway, to get him sent off as well a bitter blow. It changed the course of the game, for France as well I imagine.

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Wales started the game well and James went close in the fifth minute, forcing a fine save from France captain Hugo Lloris.

“It was all about getting players minutes on the pitch and ticking that box,” said Page, who handed a starting role to Joe Allen after two months out injured and sent on Aaron Ramsey and Ben Davies in the second half for much-needed game time.

“We achieved that and even after the sending off I still thought we created chances.”

Benzema, who last played for France in October 2015, told TF1: “It was a very good return. I felt good all match and got stronger as it went on.

“We still have time to fine-tune our attacking understanding. We tried things.

“I was proud to pull on the shirt again and I wanted to go out there and show what I can do.”


Page had promised to manage his players’ minutes against France and Albania amid several fitness concerns just 10 days before their tournament opener against Switzerland in Baku.

Ramsey, Davies and Allen all had injury issues in the final months of the season with the trio having little or no game time.

Only Allen of the three started at the Allianz Riviera, the Stoke midfielder’s first game since pulling up in a World Cup qualifying defeat to Belgium in March.

Ramsey and Davies were on the bench while Ethan Ampadu and Tom Lockyer, a late addition to the Euro 2020 party on Monday when James Lawrence dropped out, did not make the matchday squad after injury.


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