Fabinho produced a cameo to forget as he came off the bench and played a part in Liverpool’s downfall at Brighton, while somehow avoiding a red card.
Introduced for the impressive Stefan Bajcetic with 84 minutes on the clock at the AMEX, Fabinho looked far off it as soon as he stepped onto the field.
His touch was wayward and he was short in crucial challenges, losing both of his attempted duels and taking out Brighton striker Evan Ferguson with a studs-up tackle.
The young Irishman was forced off the pitch while, after initially showing Fabinho a yellow card, referee David Coote awaited the verdict from VAR.
Somehow, despite Fabinho clearly expecting to be dismissed as he spoke with the nearby Joe Gomez, the decision was upheld and the Brazilian remained on the pitch.
? “I can’t understand how the VAR referee can say that isn’t a red… it’s a terrible challenge! You can see from the player’s reaction – he knows it’s a red and he’s just waiting to be sent off.”
Fabinho was booked for this foul – should he have been sent off? pic.twitter.com/tqRjWMs5xl
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) January 29, 2023
It mattered little, of course, as Liverpool went on to concede late through Kauro Mitoma and exit the FA Cup at the fourth-round stage.
Speaking as part of ITV’s coverage of the tie, former Brighton striker Glenn Murray, now retired, criticised a “terrible challenge” which left him baffled at the VAR decision.
“For me, that’s a match-changing incident, so it needs to be reviewed,” he said.
“I can’t understand how the VAR referee Neil Swarbrick can say that isn’t a red. It’s a terrible challenge.
“You can see from the player’s reaction, he knows it’s a red. He’s just waiting to be sent off and, somehow, he remains on the field.
“That’s just me as a professional footballer, not as an ex-Brighton player.”
Joining Murray in the studio was ex-England midfielder Karen Carney, who argued that Coote need only have looked at Fabinho‘s reaction to realise it was a red.
“Sometimes referees just go and look at the offending player and you’d know then that would be a red card,” she said.
“He knows. It’s late, it’s a horrible challenge and I feel for Ferguson.
“But [Fabinho] knows that he should have been sent off there.”
There will be few Liverpool fans who could argue that Fabinho did not deserve to see red at the AMEX, which would have been the club’s second this season after Darwin Nunez.
A red card in the FA Cup would have led to a suspension which would have carried across to the Premier League.