Christian Benteke’s controversial winner for Liverpool against Bournemouth on Monday should not have stood, the Premier League has acknowledged.
Benteke’s close-range goal at Anfield was allowed to stand by referee Craig Pawson despite team-mate Philippe Coutinho having been stood in an offside position and attempting to play the ball.
The decision was widely criticised after changes to the interpretation of the offside rule this summer and the Premier League, in conjunction with referees’ body PGMOL, has clarified the situation, accepting an error was made.
A statement read: “The Premier League has this week written to its clubs to clarify the new interpretation of the offside law decided by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) this summer. Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) issued this guidance in order to clear up any misunderstandings that arose following the goal awarded to Liverpool in their Monday night match against AFC Bournemouth.
“The Premier League does not generally comment on decisions made by officials. However, given the recent change to the interpretation of the offside law and the fact it was made close to the start of the season, the league felt it was appropriate, in this instance, to publish in order to inform fans and other stakeholders.”
In the incident in question, Benteke turned in a deep cross from Jordan Henderson at the far post after the ball flew past an offside Coutinho. Under the new guidance, Coutinho did not need to have touched the ball to have been considered interfering with play, as he would in the past.
Coutinho only needed to play at the ball while it was close to him and for his action to impact an opponent. In this case that criteria was fulfilled and the law therefore not correctly enforced.
The statement used stills from the match to illustrate the point and underneath it said: “Expected outcome: Offside offence.”
The decision to write to clubs may slightly appease Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe, who said after the game he would like an explanation.
“That is the clearest example of the new rule you will see,” Howe said in his post-match press conference. “A yard and a half offside and he is clearly impacting the goalkeeper. I don’t think it is a tough one.”
The Cherries had double cause for grievance on the night after a Tommy Elphick goal was harshly disallowed for a foul. Howe said: “I would like some feedback on both decisions.” Liverpool host Arsenal on Monday night. Gunners manager Arsene Wenger felt Benteke’s effort had gone against the new guidelines and believes it highlighted the need for more television replays to help officials.
“I believe the rule is quite clear. If the guy is in an offside position takes action, then he is offside. In fact, we have been explained the case with a similar example to Monday night, so it (the Liverpool goal) was quite surprising,” he said.
“Then again, I come back to what I think should be the next step which is the use of video for all goals scored, regular or not, (the officials should) go upstairs, ask the opinion (of a TV review). This is a clear case where without wasting time you could make the right decision. I could understand the linesman could not see it, but you have to check the regularity of the goals, it is too important”
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