Why Aleksandar Mitrovic’s penalty for Fulham didn’t stand against Newcastle

Aleksandar Mitrovic endured an unhappy return to St. James’ Park as Fulham lost 1-0 to their hosts Newcastle United on Sunday afternoon.

Collectively, Fulham’s leading scorer will mourn his side’s first defeat since November after a run of five straight victories. However, his intrinsic involvement in the reverse, squandering a chance to open the scoring from a second-half penalty, will be the most haunting aspect of Sunday’s defeat.

20 minutes before Alexander Isak nodded in the game’s only goal in the 89th minute, Mitrovic had already put the ball in the net against his former employers only to have his celebration quickly cut short. Here’s why the Serbian’s spot-kick was disallowed on an afternoon to forget.

Andreas Pereira had already seen one spurious penalty appeal waved away before Bobby Decordova-Reid retrieved possession for Fulham. Jinking away from Kieran Trippier’s first challenge, Decordova-Reid’s step-over on the edge of the box lured Newcastle’s captain into an ill-timed kick.

A VAR review alerted referee Robert Jones to the indiscretion which earned Fulham a penalty in the 69th minute. Nick Pope was booked for his attempts to delay the spot kick before Mitrovic belatedly stepped up.

After three strides towards the ball, Mitrovic’s left foot slightly slipped forward as he lined up his kick. Inadvertently striking the ball onto his standing foot, Mitrovic sent his effort spinning awkwardly into the net. Fulham’s number nine hadn’t even reached the corner flag before the referee chalked the goal off.

According to Law 14 in the FA’s rule book: “The ball is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves. The kicker must not play the ball again until it has touched another player.” By taking a double touch, Mitrovic conceded an indirect free-kick.

The immediate reaction from onlookers centred around Mitrovic’s poor penalty record.

Pereira and Decordova-Reid both held onto the ball after the penalty was awarded but that may have been a tactic to draw the ire of Newcastle’s distraction attempts away from Mitrovic. In any case, the Serbian fluffed his lines for the third time this season, after failing to convert against Wolves and Southampton before the new year.

Incidentally, Pereira scored the only penalty Mitrovic hasn’t taken for Fulham in the current campaign.