Ref Watch: Was Raheem Sterling’s goal correctly ruled out? Should Fernando Llorente’s strike have stood?

Ref Watch: Was Raheem Sterling’s goal correctly ruled out? Should Fernando Llorente’s strike have stood?

Was Raheem Sterling’s goal correctly disallowed? Should Fernando Llorente’s goal have stood? Dermot Gallagher runs the rule on a pulsating Champions League semi-final in Ref Watch…

Tottenham dashed Manchester City’s quadruple dream on a dramatic Champions League night at the Etihad Stadium – thanks to VAR.

Raheem Sterling thought he settled a pulsating quarter-final contest with a late strike on Wednesday only for Sergio Aguero to be ruled offside following a VAR review in a dramatic finale.

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There was also controversy over what proved the decisive Spurs goal in a tie that ended 4-4 on aggregate, with Fernando Llorente’s bundled effort only given after a lengthy VAR review for suspected handball.

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But were the decisions correct? Dermot Gallagher has his say…

INCIDENT: Sterling has his stoppage-time strike ruled out for offside after Aguero is ruled offside in the build-up when Christian Eriksen’s misplaced back pass deflects off Bernardo Silva on its way through to the Argentine.

DERMOT SAYS: It was the right decision. The ball is played back by Eriksen, which would’ve played Aguero onside, but Bernardo Silva goes for the ball quite clearly and touches it.

The referee had no choice but to disallow the goal because in touching the ball, he directly interferes with play. What was interesting was that it only got picked up on the VAR.

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It just proved that the system worked on this occasion to get to the right decision. The pitch is calibrated from all the cameras so the referee has a number of angles. He can ask to see different angles, and the good thing about it was he took his time.

He analysed it carefully, and he came to the right conclusion.

INCIDENT: Llorente scores the decisive goal for Tottenham after diverting Kieran Trippier’s corner past Ederson via a combination of his elbow and hip.

DERMOT SAYS: This one is a much more difficult decision and what I would say is it’s not conclusive.

When is the Champions League semi-final?

Tottenham face Ajax at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Tuesday, April 30 (8pm), with the second leg taking place in Amsterdam on Wednesday, May 8 (8pm).

For a referee to disallow a goal by saying it’s handball, he’s got to be convinced it’s handball. That the ball did strike his arm. Looking at it, over and over again, it looks as though it hits his hip, if you look at it from all kinds of angles.

On that occasion, he cannot be sure it’s hit his arm because of where it is, so he was duty-bound to let the goal stand.

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If he’s convinced the ball has struck his arm, then it’s going to be disallowed because you can’t score a goal with your arm, and you can’t lay the ball off to a player who scores a goal with his arm.

It’s inconclusive, because I’ve seen many other angles, and you’ll be convinced the ball has hit his hip. The overbearing evidence is that it’s hit his hip, because there’s much more evidence to say it didn’t strike his arm than there is to say it did.

It just proved that VAR is a difficult process.

Pundit’s view

Danny Higginbotham was speaking on Match Centre on Wednesday morning, and he believes “too many grey areas” still exist with the current VAR rules, which may have enabled a different conclusion to have been reached by the match officials.

He told Sky Sports: “I am still against VAR, but what yesterday showed was that it’s still open to interpretation.

“On one of the replays with the Llorente goal, on super slow-mo, you can see the ball hits his arm because you can see the reaction of his arm muscles from where the ball has touched him, then it hits his leg and it goes in.

“There’s going to be a rule change in June, where that will be classed as being handball because it doesn’t matter if your hand is by the side of your body or not, whether the ball goes into the net or whether it goes to one of your team-mates.

“As of last night, it’s split. A lot of people will say it’s handball as it’s hit his arm, while others will say no, his arm is not in an unnatural position.


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