NEWCASTLE manager Chris Hughton criticised referee Martin Atkinson after seeing midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa suffer a suspected broken leg in a narrow defeat at Eastlands.
Hughton was unhappy at the tackle from Nigel de Jong that contributed to Ben Arfa’s injury after just five minutes, and for which the Dutchman was not booked. And he was even more irate after Atkinson awarded City a questionable penalty, from which Carlos Tevez took the lead, and then turned down a later appeal from the Magpies after Joleon Lescott felled Shola Ameobi.
“It is an injustice we have come out with a result like that,” said Hughton. “Games like this are difficult enough but you need decisions to go your way and with those two incidents, the referee made two horrendous ones.”
On Ben Arfa’s injury and De Jong’s challenge, Hughton added: “It does not look good. He has gone to hospital and we will make an announcement in due course but it looks like he has broken his leg. Everyone will have their own opinion but it was a tackle that did not need to be made.”
City assistant manager Brian Kidd insisted De Jong had not intended to harm Ben Arfa, after a victory, secured by Adam Johnson’s winner, which lifted them to second.
Tevez put the home side in front on 18 minutes, after Atkinson judged Mike Williamson to have fouled the Argentina striker. If the decision was debatable, there was no arguing with his explosive finish. Moments later, however, Newcastle drew level, Jonas Gutierrez lashing a similarly unstoppable volley past Joe Hart and into the top corner. Substitute Johnson won it 15 minutes from time when he cut in from the right and beat two men before firing low into the far corner.