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Premier League: Howard Webb says Nathan Ake goal for Man City should not have stood

Fulham players argue with referee Michael Oliver
Manchester City restored their lead in first-half injury-time against Fulham, but Webb says the goal should not have stood

Referees’ chief Howard Webb says Manchester City’s second goal in their 5-1 win over Fulham on Saturday should not have counted.

“It’s a clear situation of offside,” Webb told Match Officials: Mic’d Up.

This season referees’ body the PGMOL and the Premier League are releasing in-game audio from officials.

“From the outset I think this should have been disallowed. It certainly appears Akanji has an impact on the goalkeeper who seems to hesitate,” added Webb on the first episode of Match Officials: Mic’d Up, shown on Sky Sports and TNT Sports.

Webb also said the video assistant referee (VAR) should have awarded Wolves a late penalty against Manchester United in the two sides’ opening game of the season.

He added that John Brooks’ decision to send off Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk against Newcastle was correct.

And Alejandro Garnacho’s strike against Arsenal for Manchester United was “rightly disallowed” for offside.

The application of VAR technology has been questioned and criticised by managers, players and pundits throughout the Premier League since its introduction in 2019.

Man City 5-1 Fulham – VAR does not overturn goal (2 September)

What happened?

Manchester City went into a 2-1 lead at home to Fulham after Ake headed the ball into the bottom corner. It narrowly passed Akanji standing in an offside position with Fulham stopper Leno checking his dive. VAR Tony Harrington upheld referee Michael Oliver’s decision of a goal.

What did the officials say?

VAR Harrington: “Checking the goal, checking the goal. He’s [Akanji] definitely in an offside position. Has he made an obvious action to impact on the ability of the goalkeeper? He’s moving out of the way of the ball.”

Assistant VAR Adam Nunn: “In my opinion he makes a full-length save. For me it’s subjective, there’s potential impact on the keeper, but does it clearly impact the keeper? I think the keeper sees the ball the whole way.”

VAR Harrington: “So the keeper sees it, there’s no difference, we’re happy. Check complete?”

AVAR Nunn: “Personally, I’m happy for check complete.”

VAR Harrington: “OK, check complete, check complete.”

Webb’s response:

“These are not always easy to call because you’re trying to get two pieces of information together – is the player offside, and then the consequence of being in that position.

“From the outset I think this should have been disallowed. It certainly appears Akanji has an impact on Leno the goalkeeper who seems to hesitate.

“We think it’s a clear situation of offside, unfortunately it wasn’t identified on the day. This was an error.”

Man Utd 1-0 Wolves – VAR does not overturn no-penalty call (14 August)

Man Utd goalkeeper Andre Onana appears to foul two Wolves players
Andre Onana clattered into Sasa Kalajdzic in the final minute of added time but no penalty was given

What happened?

Deep into second-half injury time the ball is crossed into the Manchester United box and keeper Andre Onana collides with Wolves’ Sasa Kalajdzic in the area. Referee Simon Hooper does not award a penalty and VAR Michael Salisbury upholds his decision.

What did the officials say?

Referee Hooper: “No way, that’s a collision, we don’t give those.”

VAR Salisbury: “So Onana goes to challenge the ball…”

Referee Hooper: “Goal-kick.”

VAR Salisbury: “Just delay. Delay, delay, checking possible penalty.

Referee Hooper: “No worries mate.”

VAR Salisbury: “You’ll want to view this because I think Onana collides into it. He tries to go to the ball and he makes aerial contact with the Wolves player. It’s late and it’s clumsy in my opinion. Dawson wins the header, but it’s late, very late in the aerial challenge.

“I think because the Wolves player doesn’t head the ball, yeah because Dawson heads it, therefore it’s a normal collision as they’ve both challenged the ball. Check complete.

Referee Hooper: “Check complete.”

Webb’s response:

“I think from the outset I want to say that should have led to an intervention by VAR which should have seen a video review being recommended and the referee should have gone to the screen. I’m confident he would have seen the images we’ve seen and awarded a penalty.

“We see the VAR going through the checking phase while the penalty is not awarded. He starts to go down the road of recommending a review, but then he sort of overthinks it a little bit.

“Sometimes VARs can do that. They’re trying to identify what the game would expect in terms of what is and what isn’t a clear and obvious error. When he sees these two come together we know that sometimes that can happen and it’s not a foul.

“We acknowledge that as an error in the opening week which was of course disappointing. But we’ll try going forward to ensure that type of error doesn’t happen again.”

More to follow.

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