Carragher explodes as Aston Villa star Zaniolo accused of ‘exploiting’ rule

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher fumed at Aston Villa star Nicolo Zaniolo for “taking advantage” of the rules. The pundit hit out at the Italy international after he claimed to suffer a head injury during Sunday’s match against West Ham.

Carragher was on co-commentary duty for the game at Villa Park. A brace from Douglas Luiz put Unai Emery’s side two goals to the good.

West Ham pulled a goal back through a deflected Jarrod Bowen strike from long-range. The visitors were attempting to pile pressure on the Villa goal but were stopped in their tracks when Zaniolo went down clutching his head in the 60th minute.

Referee David Coote waved away claims for a free kick after a collision between Edson Alvarez and Zaniolo. But the Italian remained grounded, writhing in pain and Coote was forced to stop play with the Hammers on the attack.

Carragher shouted “No” when the referee blew his whistle and began a long rant about players “milking” head injuries in order to stop the flow of matches and “taking advantage” of the rules.

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Carragher said on Sky Sports: “Honestly I’ve had enough of this. People are milking this head injury stuff, going down.

“I understand when something’s really serious and you could argue, does the referee know? He’s seen the challenge, there’s nothing wrong with his head, get on with the game. It stops the game, it’s killing the game.

“It’s happened too much. People go down and they just hold their heads because they know the game is going to be stopped because they have lost the ball in a dangerous position and they think it is going to be a dangerous counter-attack.

“There’s a coming together, it’s a nothing challenge – honestly this is nonsense. He goes down holding his head because he knows the game has to be stopped, the referee doesn’t want to stop it – he has seen the challenge.

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“Because the player stays down and keeps his hand on his head, the referee feels like he has to blow the whistle. This has got to stop, this is happening far too much in the game now and people are taking advantage of it.

“It was brought in as a rule to try and help players, they’re now taking advantage of it.”

Replays showed Alvarez had slightly caught Zaniolo on the head. He received treatment on the pitch before resuming a couple of minutes later.

Asked what he would do to resolve the problem, Carragher said: “Play on. Listen, how do you know it’s a serious one? But you’ve seen the challenge, it’s a coming together, there’s not much in it, play on.”

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