Former Premier League referee Graham Poll believes Phil Dowd used a technicality in the rules to avoid sending off Nemanja Vidic during Manchester United's Carling Cup victory over Aston Villa yesterday.
The Serbia defender brought down Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor in the fourth minute to give away a penalty, which James Milner scored from to give Martin O'Neill's side the lead, but the official did not send Vidic off despite him appearing to be the last man.
But Poll, who infamously showed three yellow cards to Croatia defender Josip Simunic before sending him off at the 2006 World Cup, told BBC Radio Five Live: "The referee would have looked for an excuse not to send the player off, and that doesn't matter if it was an Aston Villa player or a Manchester United player."
He added: "People will say that is rubbish, as there is nothing about a cup final in the rules but you try to use your common sense and understand the occasion.
"There was a technicality that allowed him to keep Vidic on and he used it.
"The player must be heading towards goal, it's a stupid technicality, but he (Agbonlahor) loses control of the ball and it goes behind him and at the moment he goes down he is heading six or seven yards wide of goal."