Luis Diaz Goal and Six Other Huge Refereeing Decisions That Have Gone Against Liverpool This Season

Liverpool’s streak of unfortunate VAR decisions persisted during their recent 1-1 draw against Manchester City at Anfield.

In their pursuit of a late winning goal, Liverpool vehemently argued for a penalty when Jeremy Doku’s high boot connected with Alexis Mac Allister’s chest.

Referee Michael Oliver judged the incident as not warranting a penalty, a decision upheld by VAR lead Stuart Attwell, despite fans’ outcry over the perceived offense.

Conversations among the officials regarding this pivotal moment have surfaced, further fueling supporters’ frustration over the lack of a penalty call. This is not the only call that has gone against the Reds this term, however, as highlighted below:

Luis Diaz Goal

Luis Diaz’s disallowed goal during Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur in September serves as an ideal starting point for analysis.

In the match, the Colombian forward appeared to have given Jurgen Klopp’s side the lead, but his goal was incorrectly disallowed for offside, owing to a breakdown in communication among the match officials.

After the game, the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) issued a statement admitting to the error: “PGMOL acknowledges a significant human error occurred during the first half of Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool,” the statement began.

“The goal by Luis Diaz was disallowed for offside by the on-field team of match officials. This was a clear and obvious factual error and should have resulted in the goal being awarded through VAR intervention, however, the VAR failed to intervene. “PGMOL will conduct a full review into the circumstances which led to the error. PGMOL will immediately be contacting Liverpool at the conclusion of the fixture to acknowledge the error.”

Referee Simon Hooper experienced miscommunication with VAR officials Darren England and Dan Cook, leading to confusion over the initial on-field decision during a slowed-down incident review. England conveyed “check complete” to Hooper without clarifying whether the goal should stand or be annulled, resulting in the match continuing without a definitive decision.

Howard Webb elaborated on why the game couldn’t be halted to address this mistake by stating: “I heard quite a few people ask that question and I understand why people would ask that. Actually, the VAR and AVAR asked themselves that question when the penny dropped as to what happened. At that point, they considered whether they could intervene to stop the game. They recognised the Laws of the Game are set by FIFA and the International Football Association Board (IFAB) doesn’t allow that. There is a process in place that sits in the Laws of the Game about how we use VAR to make sure it is delivered consistently throughout every league in the world. It doesn’t allow you to go back in those circumstances.”

Diogo Jota Red Card

During the same game, Diogo Jota received two rapid yellow cards for separate challenges on Spurs defender Destiny Udogie. However, the Premier League’s Key Match Incidents (KMI) panel reviewed the situation and concluded that the referee’s decision was incorrect. They specifically stated that the booking for the second challenge should not have been given.

“The majority deemed the decision as incorrect as they felt it did not meet the threshold for a yellow card,” their report stated after their five members voted 3-2 against a booking.

VAR was unable to intervene on the second tackle as it constituted a yellow card offense.

Curtis Jones Red Card

Curtis Jones received a straight red card for fouling Yves Bissouma at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Despite Liverpool’s appeal, Jones’ three-game ban was upheld.

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In documents released by the FA, Liverpool claimed in their written reasons that “the intervention of VAR was not appropriate and has pushed the referee to arrive at a decision which he should not have”. After the Tottenham game, Klopp questioned the use of still images to determine the dismissal of Jones.

Making clear why Jones was harshly treated, Liverpool stated the midfielder was “clearly focused” on the ball and did not use “excessive force”, and was “only interested in playing the ball” and “poking” it away from Bissouma.

Jones also shared his side of the story, stating: “My sole intention was to touch the ball away from my opponent and into the path of my team mate, Luis Diaz who I could see to my left hand side. I did not consider myself as challenging an opponent for the ball as I felt I had possession of the ball and was trying to move the ball to stop my opponent gaining control.”

We have observed numerous comparable challenges from other competitors in the division, yet they have not led to dismissals.

Alexis Mac Allister Red Card

On the subject of red cards, Mac Allister received his marching orders during his home debut for a challenge on Bournemouth midfielder Ryan Christie.

Following the incident, a VAR review was conducted to ascertain the accuracy of the decision. It was concluded that Bramall’s decision to issue a red card was not marred by any clear and obvious error. The decision to uphold the red card was based on observations that Mac Allister’s studs were visible and that there was a high point of contact on Christie.

Subsequently, Liverpool lodged an appeal against the three-game suspension, which was later overturned, resulting in the original decision being rescinded.

Odegaard Handball

In December, during their match against Arsenal at Anfield, Liverpool were controversially denied a penalty despite Martin Odegaard appearing to handle the ball inside the penalty area.

Sky Sports confirmed at half-time guidance shared by the PGMOL as to why the Gunners’ captain got away with the handball. They clarified it was “not a clear and obvious error as Odegaard’s arm was moving towards the body and not the ball as he goes down.”

Webb later admitted his error, conceding that Liverpool should have been granted a penalty kick. Addressing the issue on Match Official Mic’d Up, the PGMOL chief stated: “So do I [think it’s a penalty]. The referee on the field recognized that Odegaard had slipped and saw his arm go towards the ground.

“We talk about ‘supporting arms’. If somebody falls, breaks their fall with the arm, it’s all very natural and a pretty well-established concept. In this situation. though, there’s an important difference to a normal play that’s falling.

“This is not just Odegaard accidentally falling onto the ball. He does slip, his arm does go out, but he actually pulls his arm back in towards his body, which is when the ball makes contact with the arm.

“The VAR looked at that aspect. He felt it was a case of Odegaard trying to make himself actually smaller by bringing the arm back towards the body. That is the element that’s important here. Whether it’s instinctive or deliberate, he gets a huge advantage by bringing the arm back towards the ball. All the feedback we got afterwards was very clear. The game expects a penalty in this situation. I would agree.”

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Cody Gakpo Goal

During a Boxing Day clash at Burnley, Cody Gakpo believed he had extended Liverpool’s lead by two goals. However, his effort was disallowed due to a perceived foul by Darwin Nunez on defender Charlie Taylor.

According to sources at the ECHO, the referee’s decision on the field stood, as VAR was unable to find sufficient evidence to overturn it, citing a lack of clear and obvious error. Controversy continued in the second half when Harvey Elliott had a goal ruled out for an offside on Mohamed Salah, who had been pushed into that position.

Former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg weighed in after the match, stating he could comprehend why Elliott’s goal was not allowed but expressed confusion over the decision to disallow Gakpo’s effort.

He said: “See, I thought Paul Tierney refereed this game really well, he played a wonderful advantage for Liverpool’s second goal but this one I don’t agree with,” he said. “You look at the reaction of the Burnley defender – he puts his hands to his head. He’s gone in front of Nunez and when I see it from different angles I don’t see any contact from Nunez, therefore I don’t see it as a foul.

“Once Paul Tierney gives it – and this is why there’s so many arguments if the VAR is doing his job or not – this is such a subjective call. He’s made the decision on the field of play and the VAR’s gone ‘you know what? There’s not enough to disallow it’.

“I don’t agree, I think the best decision would have been to play on and the goal be given. There isn’t enough contact, for me, to be awarded as a foul.”

Mac Allister Penalty

Clattenburg expressed his bewilderment at the recent incident involving Mac Allister and Doku. The situation appeared poised to end in a penalty decision, only for Oliver to signal play on, with VAR opting not to intervene.

In his column for the Daily Mail, Clattenburg, currently serving as a referee advisor for Nottingham Forest, criticized VAR for its failure to award a penalty to Liverpool. He penned: “Liverpool should have been awarded a stoppage-time penalty against Manchester City but this is the problem in the Premier League right now – referees are making mistakes in matches and not being helped by their VARs,” he wrote.

“The ball bounces up. Alexis Mac Allister moves towards it. Jeremy Doku’s foot is high. He catches Mac Allister in the chest. Outside of the box, this would have resulted in a free-kick, every day of the week. Just because it happened inside the box does not suddenly transform it into a clean challenge when Mac Allister might be left playing connect the dots on his chest on Monday morning.

“Referee Michael Oliver missed it in real-time at the end of an exhausting and exhilarating contest and so it was on VAR Stuart Attwell to intervene. This is where the frustration lies – we have seen similar incidents this weekend where Stockley Park should have told their colleagues on the ground that they had missed a penalty or a red card but didn’t.”

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