Overall we can say that Georgi Kabakov presented good refereeing (partly very good even) in a match of normal difficulty. One can actually split the game in two halves, with the first half being more challenging for the referee, while the second half was pretty much a boring one from a refereeing point of view.
=> Let’s start off with the most crucial decision of the entire game, which occurred already at 14’: after a pass that failed to arrive, GER23 makes a challenge on EST7 outside the penalty area. Kabakov whistles the foul and shows a straight RC for DOGSO to the German defender: the decision is fully correct. Kabakov proved here some strong confidence in his decision, being totally unimpressed by the German players surrounding him after having made the decision. Well done!
=> I really liked Kabakov’s approach to disciplinary control, making sure that nobody on the pitch would start to have “bad ideas”. The opening YC for instance came in 30’, for the Estonian goalkeeper for time-wasting: Kabakov signalled to the keeper that it was already the third time he would waste time in the first half. Fully correct caution here, good decision! The only other YC came a couple of minutes later in 38’, for a reckless challenge by EST21. Kabakov tried at first to play the advantage, but came correctly back to the foul as he saw that German players weren’t interested in having this advantage.
=> Kabakov also correctly rejected a penalty appeal for handball for GER in 32’: Estonian defender tries to make a sliding tackle, the ball is deviated from his waist to his arm, which is on the pitch. Two reasons to confirm that this is not a punishable handball: first, because the ball comes “directly from the players own head or body” (LotG, Law 12, section “Handling the ball”) and because “the hand/arm is between the body and the ground to support the body” (ibid.)
=> We must however raise deficiencies in the work of both assistant referees: while AR2 had a good ONSIDE decision prior to the third goal scored by Germany in 71’, he missed unfortunately a clear OFFSIDE position in the build-up to Germany’s second goal in 56’. Crucial mistake by AR2. AR1 has got a two goal-kick/corner decisions wrong, decisions which Kabakov also didn’t get right, but should have.
=> Concerning the global approach of the Bulgarian referee, he chose to stay pretty much in the background and to stay invisible, but he was there when he needed to come out (DOGSO situation in 14’ for example) and also talked to players when it was necessary (70’). That approach worked well in that match.
As already said in the opening of this report, Georgi Kabakov delivered a good, expected level performance in this tie. I can clearly see why committee have an interest in the young Bulgarian, who is confident and firm in selling his decisions. A point of improvement would definitely be the cooperation with his assistant referees, but I am confident that this will be improved in the future matches to come (hopefully in the Champions League).
LAW 5 BLOG REPORTER: