Logic for why Man Utd goal against Liverpool wasn't ruled offside makes no sense

The fallout from Liverpool's disappointing FA Cup quarter final exit at the hands of Manchester United continues, with much to pick over in the wake of the 4-3 defeat at Old Trafford.

Liverpool twice surrendered the lead to lose the game at the death in extra time, with tactical and individual errors aplenty as signs of fatigue began to show amid an already gruelling season.

However, the Reds were also (once again) not helped by the match officials, with referee John Brooks the centre of attention in a number of key moments.

Perhaps most controversially and crucially, in the build up to Antony's 87th-minute equaliser to make the game 2-2 and usher in extra time, Marcus Rashford appeared to be in a clear offside position.

The ball was played forward towards Rashford only for Virgil van Dijk to step up and lunge to make a clearance, which then returned possession to United who would go on to score seconds later.

No flag went up from the assistant running the line, while VAR Tim Robinson found nothing to overturn upon review of the incident and the dubious goal stood, leaving many scratching their heads at the pivotal point in the tie.

Why wasn't Antony's goal ruled out for Rashford's offside?

Rashford, although he never touched the ball, appeared to be clearly interfering with play, with his positioning forcing Van Dijk's intervention.

However, EPSN's VAR expert Dale Johnson writes that "a player isn't offside by their position alone -- their role in the move is what decides an offence."

Analysing the reasons behind the officials' decision, he continues: "Even though Virgil van Dijk had to intercept the pass, which gave possession back to United, Rashford wasn't close enough to the Liverpool player to be deemed to have made an impact.

"This is how the modern offside law is. Van Dijk probably doesn't make such a stretched interception if Rashford isn't behind him, but the Liverpool player cannot gamble that he's offside. In effect, United still benefited from Rashford being offside because it caused Van Dijk to stretch out a leg, but it's not a clear offside offence."

Johnson's analysis concedes that United did 'benefit' from the offside positioning which forced Van Dijk's movement, so is that not enough?

Whatever way you see it, it's either a poor interpretation from the match officials or another example of how the current offside law is not fit for purpose.

Former Red and LFCTV reporter Neil Mellor was one of many left incensed by the decision, posting on X (Twitter): "86mins: Why doesn’t the lino put his flag up when someone’s blatantly offside?! VVD has to clear the ball, Liverpool never regain it and fewer than 20 seconds later the ball is in the back of net to make it 2-2  Put your flag up lino!"

Make no mistake that the decision is not the sole reason why the Reds are not in the final four of the FA Cup, but Liverpool fans have, unfortunately, become accustomed to controversial decisions in the biggest moments so far this season (see: Diaz offside, Odegaard handball, Doku chest-kick) and this appears to be another to add to a painful list.

Share This Article