STEVE BRUCE has branded the decision to award Newcastle United a crucial stoppage-time penalty at Tottenham a “nonsense”, and warned football’s rule-makers they are ruining football with their new interpretation of the handball law.

Newcastle’s 1-1 draw at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium ended in dramatic fashion as Andy Carroll’s last-gasp header struck Spurs defender Eric Dier on the back of the arm.

Dier was looking in the opposite direction as the ball struck him from no more than two yards away, but after being instructed to consult his pitch-side monitor by VAR, referee Peter Bankes awarded a penalty that was converted by Callum Wilson.

The spot-kick secured a point that had looked extremely unlikely throughout a game that Tottenham dominated, but while he was delighted to see his players’ persistence rewarded with an unlikely equaliser, Bruce was honest enough to concede that Bankes’ decision was a farce.

“We’ve got away with one,” said Bruce, who had seen Lucas Moura open the scoring for Spurs. “It’s fallen for us today, but I really think we should all query these new rules and ask who makes them, as well as look at the way we’re now executing them as well.

“I thought VAR was going to come in for clear and obvious decisions. It’s ludicrous, and for me, it ruins the spectacle of the Premier League. If we’re not careful, all we’re going to talk about is VAR and VAR decisions. For me, that’s not right.

“The handball rules have existed for maybe 100 years. If it’s a deliberate and obvious handball, or its denying a goalscoring opportunity, then yes. But I don’t even think Dier was looking at the ball. I’m not a big lover of it at all. We’ve got away with one today, and I should be in favour of it, but I know it’ll bite me eventually, and that’s wrong.”

Today’s incident was the latest in an increasingly lengthy line of controversial decisions that have followed a pre-season directive to treat even accidental handballs as an offence.

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson was extremely critical of the decision to penalise Scott Dann for a handball in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Everton, while Manchester United were awarded a spot-kick after the final whistle had blown after the ball deflected off Neal Maupay’s arm during Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Brighton.

“We saw it in Saturday’s games too – we don’t seem to be talking about the game at all, all we seem to be talking about is VAR incidents,” continued Bruce. “It’s a nonsense. If you’re going to jump for the ball like Dier did, then your arms are going to be up. It’s impossible not to jump like that.

“If you look at a high jumper, then the first thing that goes up is their arm. That’s what gives them the momentum. It’s impossible to jump without putting your arms up to give you some balance.

“It’s a whole nonsense – the whole VAR thing, and the handball law in particular, this year is a total nonsense. Maybe we can all get together and stop it because we’re ruining the spectacle.

“We’ve got away with one today, but it could easily have been one at our end. There was a big claim for one against Jamaal, and when you see it he’s actually in an unnatural position because he’s got his arms by his side! It’s a nonsense of a ruling.”

Jose Mourinho was livid when Bankes pointed to the spot, and the Spurs boss did not even watch the final seconds of the game as he charged down the tunnel as soon as Wilson’s spot-kick hit the net.

He had regained his composure by the time he addressed the press, although he was clearly reluctant to voice his true feelings.

“If I want to give some money away, I would give it to charity,” said Mourinho. “I don’t want to give it to the FA, so I don’t want to comment.

“I don’t think (about the decision). I think about my team’s performance, which was really good. The first half, amazing. It should have been 3-0 or 4-0 easy, but Karl Darlow was fantastic and they survived.”

Darlow made a string of superb saves to prevent Tottenham claiming an unassailable advantage, and while Newcastle failed to record a single attempt on target from open play for the second game in a row, their doggedness ultimately proved crucial.

The one major downside from a black-and-white perspective was the shoulder injury that forced off Matt Ritchie in the second half, and that looks like needing surgery to repair.

“He’s done the joint in his shoulder,” said Bruce. “We don’t think it’s a dislocation, but it looks as though he’s done exactly the same as Fab Schar did, which will probably mean an operation. We’ll know more in the next couple of days.”