Ex-ref gives BAFFLING defence of Anthony Taylor's Cody Gakpo call

Former referee Dermot Gallagher has sparked controversy with his peculiar defence of Anthony Taylor's decision to prevent Liverpool's Cody Gakpo from scoring during the Reds' 2-2 draw with West Ham United on Saturday.

Gallagher's statement, made during an appearance on Sky Sports's Ref Watch, attempted to rationalise Taylor's actions during a crucial moment in the match.

The incident, which occurred in the dying minutes, saw Gakpo bizarrely denied a clear goalscoring opportunity.

In the preceding phase, Hammers keeper Alphonse Areola had collided with Gakpo, resulting in the goalkeeper sustaining an injury as he collided with the post. However, the keeper had the ball in his hands at all times, and, as a result, the referee was seen waving to play the advantage.

The confusion unfolded as Areola rolled the ball out ahead of him as if to take a free-kick, seemingly with play still active. Gakpo, seizing the moment, rushed towards the ball with intent to score.

However, referee Anthony Taylor intervened, blowing the whistle despite the ball still being in play before urging the physios to come onto the field.

'Easily avoidable'

Describing the incident, Gallagher remarked, "It's a mess that could have been avoided very easily. Areola grabs the ball - I think he collides with the post. Anthony Taylor, for whatever reason, signals advantage."

He continued, "That's where he makes the mistake - he turns his back on the ball. For that period, you're not in control of the situation."

Then, as the situation unfolded, with Gakpo charging towards the ball, Gallagher then said Taylor "dug himself out well" by blowing the whistle.

"But one wonders if it had gone in the net," he said, echoing the sentiment of many Liverpool fans, who will no doubt be incensed by Gallagher seemingly applauding Taylor's cover-up of a wrong decision.

Growing referee scrutiny

Gallagher's comments come amid growing scrutiny over the consistency and fairness of officiating in the Premier League, particularly concerning decisions that have adversely affected Liverpool's title aspirations.

In the first half of the West Ham game, Lucas Paqueta escaped punishment for a tackle similar to the one that earned Curtis Jones a red card earlier in the season against Tottenham Hotspur - the same game that also saw a perfectly legitimate Luis Diaz goal chalked off for offside.

Liverpool have also been on the wrong end of two major decisions against direct rivals, with Arsenal's Martin Odegaard's handball not resulting in a penalty, nor Manchester City's Jeremy Doku's high foot on Alexis Mac Allister.

Liverpool's disappointment over the Gakpo incident adds to a series of contentious refereeing decisions that have marred their season. Despite their own inconsistent form of late, the Reds have been on the receiving end of several controversial calls, raising questions about the impartiality and competence of match officials.

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