Former referee delivers verdict on controversial and crucial decision in Sunderland's win over Middlesbrough

Former Premier League referee Chris Foy has backed the decision to send off Dael Fry in Sunderland’s 2-0 win over Middlesbrough, but believes Michael Carrick may have a point in suggesting that the foul took place outside the box.

Though Sunderland had dominated the first half it proved to be a crucial moment in the game, with Stewart scoring the rebound from his penalty and setting his side on the way to three crucial points.

Carrick criticised referee James Linnington afterwards, saying that Fry had not committed a foul and certainly not in the box.

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Speaking in the EFL’s regular feature to add context to controversial decisions made over the weekend, Foy said: “I think the decision to penalise the defender is correct, and it is important to note that whether this particular incident was committed inside or outside of the ‘box’, it wouldn’t have impacted the result of a red card being issued.

“A penalty and red card - the ‘double jeopardy rule’ - only comes into play if a penalty is given and the foul is a genuine attempt to play the ball – on this occasion, the challenge in question is an upper body offence and not a genuine attempt for the ball.

“The debate around this decision was should it have resulted in a free-kick or a penalty, the speed and transition of the attack make this an extremely challenging judgement in real-time, and there are clearly very fine margins. With the benefit of technology and review, I think the initial contact was made outside of the box.”

Sunderland and Ross Stewart benefited from a second-half penalty awarded against Middlesbrough