Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Julen Lopetegui says it is “impossible” that his side had the winning goal disallowed in their FA Cup third-round draw against Liverpool at Anfield.
Centre-back Toti struck but the assistant referee flagged for offside against Matheus Nunes, who took the original corner and collected the ball from the left after Hwang Hee-chan pushed it back on the wing.
The video assistant referee (VAR) did not have the camera angle available to provide any evidence to overturn the decision, which means The Wolves had to settle for a 2-2 draw.
Lopetegui, who entered referee Andrew Madley’s room with captain Ruben Neves after the game, said the offside “doesn’t exist” and that it was “a shame” because his players “deserved to go to the next round”.
He was also angry that Mohamed Salah’s goal, which put Liverpool 2-1 up, was allowed to stand, despite the Egypt striker appearing to be in the backfield when the ball was passed to him in the build-up.
What actually happened?
Starting with a Wolves goal disallowed, Nunes took a corner that was headed by Nathan Collins, then Hwang flicked it back to Nunes on the left wing.
He dribbled to the touchline and his cross was deflected to Hwang, whose shot was turned by Tota to give Wolves, who were leading 1-0 before being leveled, 3-2 up.
The Wolves players celebrated wildly, Toti was taking off his shirt, but the assistant had the flag up.
VAR then reviewed the incident but did not have a clear camera angle to overturn the decision.
Speaking to ITV, Lopetegui said: “We saw, offside doesn’t exist, I’m sorry. It’s impossible.
“Someone told him he was offside, but we saw the pictures, that doesn’t exist.
“The decision is wrong. Every day I make mistakes, and sometimes they do. Today we have the help of VAR, and it’s a shame, because I’m sorry, it’s not offside.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said: “I’m not sure about their third goal. We have one picture where it may look offside, but I can understand why they are angry about it. We don’t want VAR to have only one angle.”
In the Premier League, an explanation such as “Nunes offside” would be shown on a screen in the country, but the Football Association, which runs the FA Cup, follows instructions from Uefa and Fifa and does not, causing confusion among the crowd and pundits.
“We sat in the studio trying to figure it out, and so did the crowd and the bench,” former Liverpool striker Emile Heskey told ITV.
Former England striker Eni Aluko added: “State-of-the-art stadiums – just show it on the screen. The clarity has to be there.
“This is offside, Nunes was in the backfield, but it wasn’t clear at first. Now we have a decision, but it has to be clearer.”
Wolves and Lopetegui were already annoyed that Salah’s goal was allowed to stand.
The winger was in the backfield when Cody Gapko tried over the top of the Wolves defence, but Toti headed the ball home in an attempt to stop the attack.
That meant Salah was onside, controlled the ball and scored to give Liverpool the lead.
Lopetegui said: “It’s the same in all leagues. My opinion is that we have to talk a lot with the referees about this situation.
“One player took advantage of his position, Salah was offside before Toti touched the ball, so he got the advantage. Toti, of course, only goes for it because of the offside player.”
Former Liverpool defender Stephen Warnock told BBC Match of the Day: “It’s very frustrating. The rules of the game say there should be a goal, but football fans know it shouldn’t stand. Toti has to deal with that because he has to believe Salah is offside. Law is wrong in our opinion.”
Asked on BBC Match of the Day whether Salah’s goal should have been disallowed and Toti’s allowed, he said: “In my opinion, yes. That’s my clear opinion now.”
Lopetegui added that referee Madley “heard us”, explaining: “It’s a good thing for me, it’s not common in Spain. I like to talk, just to show him that offside doesn’t exist. That’s very clear.”
What do the rules say?
Both incidents focus on when a new phase of the game begins and what the intended action is.
According to Law 11 of the FA Rules: “A player in an offside position who receives the ball from an opponent who deliberately plays the ball, including deliberate handball, is not deemed to have gained an advantage, unless it was a deliberate defense by any opponent.
A “save” is when a player stops or attempts to stop a ball going into or very close to the goal with any part of the body other than the hands/arms (unless the goalkeeper is inside the penalty area).”
The assistant referee believed Nunes was offside when Hwang headed the ball – starting a new phase of the game – and VAR had no clear evidence to overturn the decision.
A goal by Salah as a result of Toti’s header has not been ruled out, which started a new phase of the game.
Why was there VAR?
Fans and spectators will wonder why VAR was at this match, but not in it earlier match between Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle United, where there was a dispute about two goals, and other games this weekend.
VAR only works at Premier League grounds, which means he was at Anfield but not at Hillsborough.
‘The rule should be scrapped’ – views from #bbcfootball
Day: Not only do we have to put up with VAR ruining goal celebrations, but he doesn’t even get the calls right when he reviews them? I’d prefer the odd human error to this farce.
New Era: Salah was offside, and Toti’s goal was not. What is the point of VAR if after looking at the screen they still make mistakes?
Martin Philip Odoni: I have to admit, if Salah’s goal wasn’t offside and Totti’s was, I just don’t understand the offside law at all. And I’m a Liverpool fan.
Richard: If it’s offside, and Salah’s is not, I honestly don’t understand football anymore. Both were in the lead but did not touch the ball. Both scored goals in the second phase. It’s one day. One is not allowed.
Jon Evans: Two outrageous things from the game. 1) I’ve said it before, but the offside rule that allowed Salah’s goal is horrible and should be scrapped, I have no idea why it was put in place. 2) How come there is no Wolves offside camera? Something is not right here.