By Nick Ware

19th Oct, 2021 | 9:10am

Keith Hackett stunned by Rafa Benitez comments after Everton loss

We’re delighted to welcome former Premier League referee Keith Hackett as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at Everton.

Keith Hackett was left stunned after hearing comments made by Rafa Benitez in the aftermath of West Ham’s 1-0 win at Everton on Sunday.

Angelo Ogbonna scored the winner for the Irons at Goodison Park, but it was the corner given just before that annoyed the Blues boss, with Michail Antonio challenging Jordan Pickford in the six-yard box.

“I have a problem because I am from Spain and normally in Europe the six-yard box is to protect the keeper,” Benitez said [Liverpool Echo].

“When you have a player blocking the keeper in the six-yard area it is a free-kick – and then you can argue whether there is a corner or not. You have to protect him.

“Why do you have the six-yard box? It is there for the keeper. The keeper sometimes goes for the ball and you cannot see what is coming from one side, which is why you have the six-yard box and not just for goal-kicks.”

However, ex-FIFA official Keith Hackett took exception to the Spaniard’s comments.

“I’m amazed,” Hackett told Goodison News. “I can tell you I don’t think that is the case in terms of Spanish referees, if they are applying the laws of the game.

“Look, don’t start blaming the match officials or even suggesting that referees in other countries do it differently on the basis that he is managing a team in the English Premier League.

“He’s having to put up with Premier League referees, good, bad or indifferent. On this occasion he’s got it wrong, he’s based it on not seeing the replay.

“I’ve had dealings with Rafa, I respect him highly. I remember going to his office when he was at Liverpool.”

In other Everton news, the Blues have made contact over this striker that Pep Guardiola called ‘Incredible’, and a January transfer is on the cards.

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